A Nailsworth woman has revealed how she was caught up in the chaos of a pepper spray attack ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday.
Lifelong Red, Clare Janik, friend Paul Fox and her dad Peter Armitage and brother Philip Armitage were at the Champions League final between the Liverpool and Real Madrid when they were caught up in a ‘disturbance’ near the stadium, where distressing scenes outside the Stade de France saw French police use pepper spray and tear gas on elderly fans and children.
Clare said of the attack: “It was like hot ash in the eye. I don’t think it was aimed at us but the wind spread it.”
In the chaos, Clare became separated from her dad and brother, but found solace with another fan, she added: “Andy, the fan, didn’t know us but was so kind and helpful.”
Kick-off at the Stade de France was delayed for 15 minutes initially and then for a further 15 as long lines of fans were still waiting to get into the stadium.
Clare added: “It was total disorganisation going in – hundreds queuing with only space for one person to get through where our tickets were checked for the first time. The queues leading up to it were rammed and people were very scared. They were asking some guys on the balcony in front of us to film it so people would know what really happened- lots of fans saying that we would get the blame when it was not of our doing.
“Inside, we thought we were through the worse but at Gate A – one of the Liverpool gates – there were more queues as the gate wasn’t even open. About five guys with tickets climbed the fence into the stadium as they didn’t want to miss the start of the match – we didn’t know it had been delayed at that stage. That’s when the pepper spray was used – with no thought to the effects on the children there. It was total chaos and I’m amazed no-one, to my knowledge, was seriously injured.”
UEFA claimed there were thousands of ticketless fans trying to gain access to the 80,000-plus capacity French national stadium but it did not identify where they were from.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin claimed stewards were assaulted by the supporters of the English side who forced entry without tickets or with counterfeit tickets.