Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, has quietly apologized to Liverpool fans for the chaos that happened at the UEFA Champions League final in May at the Stade de France. However, fans are unlikely to be satisfied after a month of lies from one of the most powerful people in the country’s government.
Reds fans, including women, children, and people with disabilities, were gassed with tear gas, hit with riot shields, and robbed by armed gangs of local youths at the biggest football event in Europe. The French senate is currently looking into what caused the problems, which left some fans traumatized and others with serious injuries.
Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéa, who is in charge of sports, went on a propaganda campaign against Liverpool fans. They did this to protect the French government’s reputation by putting the blame on the fans. Darmanin told the senate that fans came late and were drunk and that up to 40,000 people tried to get into the stadium without tickets. He said that the chaos was caused by “massive fraud” on an industrial scale.
The minister’s version of what happened, on the other hand, has been largely laughed at in France. A poll showed that 76 percent of French people thought he was lying when he told the senate what happened. On one of its front pages, the French daily newspaper Libération drew Darmanin as Pinocchio with a bigger nose because he had lied.
Fans of Liverpool have posted a lot of audio and video evidence online that shows police brutality, dangerous crowd crushing, and a general lack of crowd control on the part of the French government. Darmanin and the rest of the French government, on the other hand, have not provided a single piece of evidence to back up their own version of events. Fans are worried about a cover-up because CCTV footage from the Stade de France was “automatically” erased after the event.
Now, Darmanin has started what seems to be a climbdown. He has gone from aggressively attacking fans in the senate to accepting some responsibility in a way that tries to make peace.
“Could there have been a better way to run the Stade de France? “The answer is yes,” he told RTL in France after the show’s host pushed him to say sorry. “Does that have something to do with me?” Yes, that’s the answer. I’m sorry to those who had trouble because of how badly the match was run. Since then, we’ve had three big games at the Stade de France with no problems.
Last week, Liverpool fans who spoke in front of the senate called on Darmanin to apologize and step down for spreading false information on purpose. This half-apology, which is full of vague promises to make changes and is given in French on a platform that English fans can’t get to, is not likely to satisfy fans that Darmanin and his coworkers have spent the last month trying to hurt in public.
The way Darmanin said he was sorry doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it is a way to say you’re sorry without taking responsibility.
Didier Lallement, the chief of police in Paris, admitted in his own senate hearing that he made up the number of 40,000 fans without tickets. He also said that the number has “no scientific value.” Now, it looks like he’s going to lose his job because Darmanin won’t say if Lallement will keep the job he’s had since 2019.
Darmanin said, “We just had an election, so now is not the time to throw around names like that.” “First, I’ll change the way things are set up.
“The next question is about people. On that night, the police chief was working, and I’m sure we need to make some changes to the organization. I run the administration of the Ministry of the Interior, so I don’t hand out punishments. But maybe I need to make some changes in my office.
Darmanin’s apology seems to be a partial acceptance of the fact that neither the French public nor the senate investigation believe his obviously false version of events. It also seems to be an attempt to get out of a hole he has dug for himself that is getting deeper and deeper.
In fact, inquiry co-chairman Francois-Nol Buffet told the Senate last week before fans testified that “English football fans were not to blame for these problems.” Let’s get that straight. They were very calm in a very chaotic situation.’
Darmanin is now trying to put all of the blame on young adults in Saint-Denis. Locals have been seen on video climbing up people’s faces to try to get into the stadium without tickets, and both Liverpool and Real Madrid fans were attacked by gangs of locals before and after the game. They were robbed, cut, and in some cases sexually assaulted.
Saint-Denis is a part of the greater Paris area that has high rates of poverty and unemployment, which makes violent crime happen often. The fact that these crimes happened to fans of both Liverpool and Real Madrid is a failure of both the French government and the police, but Darmanin did not admit that they were to blame.
He said, “I have given very clear instructions to fight against all kinds of crime in Saint-Denis and around the Stade de France,” but he didn’t say anything else. “I’ll say it again: the questions about the Stade de France are about fighting crime in Saint-Denis.” I think this should be one of our goals.’
The investigation by the French Senate is still going on, and UEFA will give the results of their own investigation in September. In their testimony to the Senate, Liverpool fans promised to keep fighting against lies until the people who spread them have had to deal with the consequences.