French police said 68 people were arrested and 174 people were injured after chaotic scenes ahead of yesterday’s Champions League final in Paris saw riot officers deploy tear gas and beat Liverpool supporters with batons.
There was no breakdown of nationalities or reasons for arrest, but a source said the injuries were mainly from tear gas inhalation.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin declared the chaos was down to ticketless fans trying to force their way into the Stade de France to watch Liverpool take on Real Madrid, and thanked French police for their efforts.
‘Thousands of British ‘fans’, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards. Thank you to all the police forces mobilised this evening in this difficult context,’ he tweeted.
But videos have since emerged of riot police spraying tear gas at scores of peaceful fans, including women and children, waiting calmly outside the gates.
It comes as footage from Place de la Nation in central eastern Paris showed officers rushing into bars and brutalising fans with batons.
‘The police came at the fans with batons and shields,’ said an onlooker who witnessed the trouble, which came during the first half.
‘Officers had been standing by with water cannon and other crowd control devices all day, and their numbers increased as the day went on.
‘They seemed to be unhappy and so decided to move in. It seemed to be unprovoked.’
A police source said the officers were merely trying to ‘crown trouble’ among the thousands of Liverpool fans around Place de la Nation.
Liverpool FC meanwhile has demanded a formal enquiry into the treatment of their supporters by the French authorities.
A statement issued by the club after the match read: ‘We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France.
‘This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.’
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson told the BBC following the game one of this friends was refused entry and accused of having a fake ticket.
‘One of my mates got told it was a fake, which I assure you it wasn’t. It was a shambles really,’ the 28-year-old said.
‘To be honest, people were just making it up at times and panicking. Tear gas getting thrown at people was unacceptable.’
Footage from Place de la Nation in central eastern Paris showed officers rushing into bars and brutalising fans with batons
Women and children were among the crowds who were rushed by riot police officers in Paris
Liverpool fans including families and young children were ‘tear gassed’ by French police as chaos outside the Stade de France marred the build-up to the club’s UEFA Champions League final clash this evening
Liverpool fans, including young children, cover their faces as French police deploy pepper spray outside the Stade de France
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin declared the chaos was down to ticketless fans trying to force their way into the Stade de France to watch Liverpool take on Real Madrid , and thanked French police for their efforts
Eyewitnesses slammed the chaotic scenes and security situation outside the Stade de France
Riot police and Liverpool fans pictured at the entry to the Stade de France in Paris
Liverpool released a statement describing the club’s ‘disappointment’ at the ugly scenes that emerged from the French capital before the delayed Champions League final
Paris police publish pictures of FAKE tickets that they claim caused chaos at Champions League final
Parisian police have published pictures of shat they claim were fake tickets that caused chaos at Saturday night’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
It came as the French interior minister blamed ‘thousands of British ”supporters” without tickets or with counterfeit tickets’ for the horrific scenes outside the Stade de France.
Kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes as a dangerous situation developed outside the Stade de France in Paris as thousands of Liverpool fans were crushed and teargassed by police.
UEFA initially blamed supporters arriving late at the stadium for the shambolic scenes at entrance gates but later attributed the issues to fans trying to gain access with fake tickets, which caused delays.
And interior minister Gerald Darmanin has also attempted to point the finger of blame at Liverpool fans.
He tweeted a picture of himself in the police control room at the Stade de France alongside French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and wrote: ‘With @AOC1978, at the Stade de France security headquarters.
‘Thousands of British ”supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards.
‘Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context.’
Riot police used batons to push back supporters outside some gates, which had been locked supposedly to prevent those without tickets, or with fake tickets, from getting inside.
UEFA released a statement saying fans with forged tickets in the Liverpool end caused a bottleneck because the ticket barcodes would not scan at the turnstiles.
Elsewhere French riot police were also accused of attacking Liverpool supporters watching their side lose the final from a dedicated fan zone in the Place de la Nation, Paris.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has blamed ticketless Liverpool fans for the chaos
As the match’s 8pm kickoff approached, reports suggested ‘hundreds of fans’ without tickets attempted to storm the Stade de France ahead of the match, which saw kickoff postponed by 30 minutes amid the disarray.
French police were forced to create a narrow human funnel, prompting crush concerns, as they separated fans trying to enter the venue in concerning scenes harkening to the UEFA Euro 2020 chaos at Wembley stadium.
UEFA has since released a statement that suggested thousands of Liverpool fans had been caught out and tried using ‘fake tickets’ that didn’t work at the turnstiles. The governing body later called for an inquiry from French officials into the use of tear gas on fans at the Stade de France.
Twenty-five minutes before the scheduled kick off Paris police put out a tweet urging fans not to ‘rush the gates’ as they approached the ground. But by then there were already reports of tear gas and pepper spray being used on fans who had been queuing more than two hours to get in.
Journalists caught up in the chaos allege they were ‘forced to delete’ incriminating footage of the heavy-handed security response before UEFA officials intervened to calm the situation.
Gary Lineker led the condemnation as he offered a scathing assessment of the security situation at the Stade de France ahead of the delayed UEFA Champions League final.
Speaking to AP while queuing, a fan said: ‘It’s absolutely horrendous. There’s a bottleneck down there and there’s literally a six-foot gap for maybe 20,000 Liverpool fans to get in.
‘We are absolutely being pushed from pillar to post. I have an 82-year-old father in law here. It’s just madness. I’m really sorry but there are just thousands behind us.’
BBC Journalist Nick Parrott, who had attended Saturday’s match and was part of a group of fans who were pepper-sprayed, told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘I was outside Gate Y which has been opening and closing repeatedly over the last hour and a half but nobody has been going through. The security staff on the other side advanced and sprayed pepper spray.
‘I have seen 10 fans trying to climb over fences. Gate Z is open but there does not seem to be any movement going in. I have never seen this sort of chaos at any match I have been to in a personal capacity.’
Marvin Matip, the brother of Liverpool defender Joel, told Sky Sport Germany: ‘The organisation around and in the stadium is unworthy of a Champions League final. Using tear gas in areas with children and uninvolved fans is dangerous!’
Reporter Florian Plettenberg said that Marvin Matip, his wife, who is pregnant, and family were forced to flee the ground and and hide in a restaurant from tear gas. One video shared widely across social media showed a young Liverpool fan coughing and spluttering after being pepper-sprayed by police.
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish’s son Paul who was at the game also tweeted about the chaos.
He said afterwards: ‘There was a weird vibe tonight. Team seemed flat. Fans seemed flat. All I can share is how I felt going in to the game and coming out of the game.
‘It was horrible. My friend got gassed and is in hospital now. So sad.’
One Liverpool fan meanwhile told talkSPORT the chaos outside the grounds resulted in his nine-year-old son having a panic attack.
‘I’m not very good,’ Reds supporter Nick said after the game. ‘I’m with my nine-year-old son.
‘He saw tear gas being used against fans, we were there two hours before the game.
‘The police were kicking off, he’s physically shaking with fear. He’s nine-years old and I can’t stop him from shaking. He’s crying his eyes out.’
Kickoff was pushed back to 9.30pm local time (8.30GMT) as a result, with eyewitnesses adding that fans were being held in ‘long and slow moving’ hour-long queues outside the stadium as the final fast approached.
Liverpool fans grasp onto the gates of the Stade de France as they wait outside the venue as kickoff was delayed
A father covers his face, and his son pulls up his coat over his eyes after Liverpool fans were ‘tear gassed’ by French riot police
Liverpool fans try to cover their faces with their shirts and with masks after reports of police ‘tear gassing’ them outside the Stade de France
Chaotic scenes were seen outside the Stade de France as Liverpool fans battled to get into the ground ahead of kickoff
Police used pepper spray against supporters attempting to climb the fence outside the ground at the Stade de France
Fans were pictured climbing the fences of the Stade de France ahead of the UEFA Champions League final as stewards battled to hold them back
Bystanders were hugely critical of the security presence at the stadium, with riot police eventually called to settle the crowds
Kickoff was pushed back by an extra 30 minutes with eyewitnesses saying Liverpool fans were being held in ‘long and slow moving’ hour-long queues outside the stadium as the final fast approached
Liverpool fans queue to gain entry to the stadium as kick off was delayed ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
Heavily armoured riot police armed with shield and batons were pictured guarding the stands occupied by Liverpool fans
Concerning scenes from outside the Stade de France appear to show ticketless fans jumping the fence ahead of the UEFA Champions League final kickoff
Other videos shared across social media showed the chaos outside the stadium, with Liverpool fans clambering over a wall
The LED screen shows the message of a delayed kick off time prior to the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France
Tens of thousands missed out on bagging tickets for the highly-anticipated showdown tonight, and it is believed many have headed to the capital regardless
Eyewitnesses reported Liverpool fans were being held in ‘long and slow moving’ hour-long queues outside the stadium as the final fast approached
One LFC fan is pictured being held back by heavily-armoured French police officers and a steward during the unsightly chaos
Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr opens the scoring and buries the ball past an outstretched Alisson as Real Madrid took a 1-0 lead in the UEFA Champions League final
Real Madrid stalwart Marcelo lifts the Champions League trophy after his side’s victory against Liverpool in Paris
A group of Liverpool fans set off flares and hang flags atop a statue in Paris ahead of the UEFA Champions League final
Liverpool fans soak up the pre-match atmosphere in the Place de la Nation in Paris ahead of the UEFA Champions League final
Liverpool fans enjoyed the atmosphere in Concert Square ahead of the UEFA Champions League final
Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah pictured arriving at Stade de France ahead of the Champions League final
Liverpool fans will be hoping to turn the French capital red and lift the iconic European trophy for a seventh time
Thousands of Liverpool supporters in a fan zone in Paris, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France
Gary Lineker offered a scathing assessment of the security situation at the Stade de France ahead of the delayed UEFA Champions League final
Kelly Cates, Sky Sports presenter and daughter of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish warned of ‘very dangerous’ scenes as hundreds of ticketless fans reportedly attempted to storm the Stade de France
Pictured: Fans who have already made it to Paris are doing their best to turn the French capital red with flares going off at the Eiffel Tower and thousands already packed into the fan zone set up for Liverpool supporters by city’s authorities
Liverpool fans enjoy the pre-match atmosphere in Place de la Nation ahead of the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid
Liverpool fans give a young boy a Jurgen Klopp face mask as they board a train Gare du Nord in Paris, to make their way to the Stade de France for the UEFA Champions League Final
Liverpool fans set off flares as they gather in Paris city centre ahead of the Champions League final. As many as 50,000 supporters, largely ticketless, began gathering early in the day in different parts of the city, but police reminded them to be wary
Hundreds of Liverpool fans board a train at Gare du Nord in Paris as they head to the Stade de France for the UEFA Champions League final tonight
Inside the dressing rooms at the Stade de France as Liverpool and Real Madrid prepare to face off in the UEFA Champions League final
A group of Liverpool fans used a speedboat to get to France after their flight was cancelled
Liverpool fans warned of thieves in Paris ahead of Champions League clash
Liverpool fans have been warned about attempted thefts in Paris ahead of the Champions League final, as tens of thousands gather in the city.
The Reds will take on Real Madrid at the Stade de France, just north of the city, on Saturday evening.
As many as 50,000 supporters, largely ticketless, began gathering early in the day in different parts of the city, but police reminded them to be wary.
Merseyside Police’s Liverpool matchday policing Twitter account posted: ‘Just been made aware of an attempted theft up at the stadium.
‘What appears to be local youths snatching off people and running off.
‘Look after you belongings. Look out for each other. Stay safe.’
Footballs were kicked in the air and banners flown while flares – which were prohibited by French authorities – were let off in the in the Cours de Vincennes fan zone.
Some fans were hanging high above the crowd on lampposts, letting off flares.
The huge crowd then sang the club’s unofficial anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone before cheering Liverpool legend ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish to a stage.
UEFA tried to maintain a veneer of calm by first announcing a delay of 15 minutes for what they called ‘security reasons’, then lengthened to half-an-hour with the finally starting after that.
Tens of thousands of fans missed out on bagging tickets for the highly-anticipated showdown, and it is believed many have headed to the French capital regardless.
And it appears that, amid unsightly scenes, troublemakers managed to break through security gates and past the police officers safeguarding the event.
Kelly Cates, Sky Sports presenter and daughter of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, tweeted: ‘Absolutely shambolic at the Stade de France. No way in, no way way of knowing which way to go.
‘Stay safe if you’re heading in. It has the potential to be very dangerous’.
Jim Beglin, a former Liverpool defender now working as a commentator, added: ‘What’s happening at the Stade De France right now is a disgrace. Allow the Liverpool fans to enter gates A and Z!’
It comes as fans were turned away from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport this morning after tour operator World Choice Sports scrapped one of its flights to the French capital.
But the problems were not exclusively in the air, with dozens of fans also abandoned at the side of the road after their coaches failed to turn up and transport them to Paris, leaving many with no option but to go home.
Fans who have already made it to Paris are doing their best to turn the French capital red with flares going off at the Eiffel Tower and thousands already packed into the fan zone set up for Liverpool supporters by city authorities.
A dedicated group of Liverpool supporters hired a speed boat in a mad dash to get to Paris for the Champions League Final after their easyJet flight was cancelled.
Meanwhile, not satisfied with some of the extortionate ticket prices being offered by travel companies, YouTuber Simon Wilson forked out £5,000 on a huge bus to take fans to the French capital, charging each supporter just £1 to get on board.
But not every one was as lucky as hundreds of other Reds fans were also left scrambling to find alternative ways to get to Paris in time after airlines cancelled flights last minute and France-bound coaches failed to turn up in time.
Paddy O’Toole and 12 others had to charter the novel way to cross the Channel late on Friday after their initial plans to fly were scuppered.
Two of the fans, Adam and Tom Dring, flew down to Heathrow to try and get another flight but they were unsuccessful so decided to team up with family friend Paddy who lives on Jersey.
The lads flew from Heathrow to Jersey and Paddy contacted a friend who runs a boat chartering firm called Le Mourier on the island.
Paddy told the Liverpool Echo: ‘They got a flight to Jersey last minute and they met up with us and asked could we get them to France.
‘We felt sorry for the young lads so we had to do something.’
The fan group in Jersey were able to charter a speed boat to cross from Jersey to Saint-Malo where they could then continue their journey on to the capital in time for Saturday’s clash.
Video posted on Paddy’s Twitter account shows the group bouncing across the waves as they head towards France in a Redbay Stormforce 950.
Among the people onboard was 72-year-old Dave Walsh, Jamie O’Neill, Jay and Billy Giles and Joey OToole.
On the footage someone can be heard: ‘Just coming into France, we must be off our heads.’ As Billy Joel’s ‘We didn’t start the fire’ blares out.
Paddy added: ‘We saw a few dolphins on the way and got the train to Rennes and then to Paris.
‘A few more of are mates from Liverpool who live in Jersey heard we were going and joined on. We haven’t got a ticket between us.’
Le Mourier tweeted:’We are glad you enjoyed your voyage and wish you the very best onward journey.’
Once in Saint-Malo the group boarded a train to Paris in time for the clash this evening.
The astonishing feat was admired by fellow Liverpool fans who congratulated the men on their ingenuity.
On their way: Paddy O’Toole and 12 other die hard supporters (pictured) chartered the novel way to cross the Channel late on Friday after their initial plans to fly were scuppered
Footage shows the group bouncing across the waves as they head towards France in RIB
Once in St Malo the group (pictured) boarded a train to Paris in time for the clash this evening
The group of diehard supporters flew from Heathrow to Jersey where Paddy now lives and he contacted a pal who runs a swimming and boat chartering firm called Le Mourier on the island
LFC fan Simon Wilson has bought the ‘cheapest coach in the UK’ so he could drive Reds fans to the Champions League final
Youtuber Simon Wilson is charging fans just £1 for a return trip to Paris after buying a coach and getting it wrapped in red
One fan said: ‘Goosebumps. Best supporters on the planet, will do whatever it takes to see their team. YNWA.’
Another added: ‘That’s brillant well done lads!! They always say where ever there’s a match scousers will find there!!! Class!!’
One joked: ‘Better watch out on the way back, Patel’ll have them off to Rwanda.’
It comes as a coach bought by a Liverpool supporter to transport dozens of fellow fans to Paris for just £1 each has arrived in the city ahead of the Champions League final.
Simon Wilson, a British vlogger, from Wrexham, bought the cheapest coach he could find for £5,000 to take as many fans there to avoid the ‘extortionate’ travel fees.
Just £1 each meant around 50 supporters could go from Anfield to the French capital in time for the game.
Mr Wilson said: ‘It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, setting off on Thursday morning, I never thought it would take as long as it did.
‘Along the way there have been some worried faces, people expecting to get to Paris and thinking we wouldn’t, but I always had faith, despite all the challenges we’ve had.
‘I’ve never had so little sleep in all my life, I’ve managed a few hours, but it was worth it. Now we can soak up the atmosphere here before the game.’
He said the original coach had to be replaced and the ferry to cross at Dover had to be pushed back as they were behind schedule.
However, after getting in to France in the early hours, the coach pushed on and made it to Paris by the afternoon.
Wilson is also known for driving a £40 Skoda to the Champions League final in Madrid in 2019.
He added: ‘The fees people were charged were pretty extortionate, it’s shocking, so I wanted to give something back, get the fans over here.
‘People want to come to Paris to watch their team – they should be able to do it without being charged so much money.
‘It’s all been pretty expensive, the original coach was £5,000, I then wrapped it for another £8,000 and then there’s the hidden costs, it was a lot of money, but I wanted to help.
‘I was always positive, I knew we would get here. I’d just like to say thanks to Revolut for making it possible.’
The coach will return to the UK on Sunday after the match.
Meanwhile, easyJet has cancelled more than 200 flights over the next 10 days as transport disruption hampers the outset of the half-term break.
The airline said the cancellations would affect about 24 flights per day from London’s Gatwick airport between May 28 and June 6.
It added the cancellations were ‘necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period’.
At Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, more than 100 LFC fans who paid around £650 through tour operator WorldChoice Sports couldn’t board their flights to Paris after the company cancelled two flights and managed to replace one.
Pictures showed crowds of Reds supporters being turned away after the Paris-bound flight was cancelled last minute on Saturday morning.
Keenan Downey and his father Leslie arrived at Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 1.30am on Saturday, hoping to catch a 4am flight to Paris.
Pictures from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport showed crowds of Reds supporters being turned away after the Paris-bound flight was cancelled last minute on Saturday morning. Many have not been able to secure alternative travel to France
All aboard: Simon Wilson with his coach that transported dozens of supporters to Paris for just £1 each ahead of the final
On the way: Liverpool supporter Simon Wilson with his coach that transported dozens of fellow fans to Paris for just £1
Simon Wilson (right) with his coach that transported fellow fans to Paris for just £1 each ahead of the Champions League final
However, they were among scores of fans who faced lengthy delays after a flight cancellation.
Mr Downey, 25, who travelled from Anglesey, Wales, says the flight was rescheduled to depart at 5.45am but was cancelled.
He was then told there was no flights left at 3.30am, leaving him ‘stood around helpless’, before he finally boarded a rescheduled flight at 9.40am.
The pair booked the flights through World Choice Sports, which sells packages to sporting events, for about £1,300.
Prior to boarding the plane, he said: ‘I’m not even confident that we will get out there at the moment.
‘I have got the boarding pass in my hand but until we are sat in that seat and we are taking off I won’t be confident that we’ll get there. It is pretty crazy.’
He added: ‘It is my first-ever final. My old man, he is fortunate, this will be his third. But this is my first and I am just devastated. I’m not certain we will be going.
‘The biggest worry is getting home of course, although if we win I won’t be worrying about that.’
Calls to World Choice Sports are greeted by a recorded statement saying: ‘If your flight has been cancelled, please accept our apologies as it was due to matters out of our control.
‘Please rest assured we will be refunding you in full in the next few days. Once again, we are sorry for any inconvenience caused.’
A spokesperson for WorldChoice Sports said: ‘If your flight has been cancelled, please accept our apologies. Fortunately, this only affected a small number of passengers.
‘This was due to matters beyond our control. Rest assured that we will be refunding you in full during the next coming days.
‘We were very badly let down by the broker and the airline. Please accept our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused.’
Liverpool FC supporters travelling to the Champions League final also faced long queues at the Port of Dover.
Thousands of fans descended on the Kent port on Friday to board cross-Channel ferries en route to Paris for Saturday’s match.
But some fans didn’t make it that far with huge groups left stranded in Liverpool after their coaches to Paris reportedly drove past them.
One group arrived at the meet up point at 4.15pm but were still waiting by 11pm after a number of buses passed but didn’t stop.
According to some fans at the Rocket junction of the M62, five coaches that had been booked were empty but drove past.
Since then they have not been able to get in contact with the company and many will now not make it to the final.
Jay Burke and his three friends paid £179 for the coach trip that would have transported them to Dover, over to Paris to the fan zone and home again after the match.
The 25-year-old from Liverpool, said: ‘We arrived at the Rocket on Queens Drive for a schedule pick up of 4.15pm.
‘It was meant to be 6.15pm but the company emailed everyone two days ago stating the pick up has changed to 4.15pm. Hundreds of us were there since 4.15pm and only about five out of 24 coaches arrived.
Crowds of Liverpool fans who were left stranded at the Rocket pub ahead of Paris trip after coaches reportedly didn’t show up
‘The four of us were there until 11pm with no communication at all just hoping for a coach to come. One coach came at 10pm and everyone flooded to get on, no register or anything just first come first served.’
Jay said when he finally got through to the company after more than 200 calls, they told him the buses had turned up and no one was there. He was then told to call back on Monday for a refund.
Dozens of other fans have also taken to Twitter to complain about the coach situation.
Jordan Halliwell said on Twitter: ‘Meant to be picked up at 4pm at the Rocket pub. It is now 22.30pm and still nothing.
‘Trip to Paris ruined now off, home instead. No communication from the company.’
On Facebook, Demi Edmunds said: ‘Coach to go to the final in Paris was meant to arrive to pick us up at 4:15pm today and every coach stopped and let people who weren’t even meant to be on that coach number on it.
‘Then to top it off, our coach drove past beeping at us with no one on it and then when angry fans called they said ‘the company manager drove past and there was no one there.’
In Paris, tens of thousands of Liverpool fans have sung ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ ahead of the Champions League final.
Thousands of Liverpool supporters in a fan zone in Paris, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France
Thousands of Liverpool supporters in a fan zone in Paris, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France
Pictured left to right: Thomas Peters12, Archie Beckett 12, Luca Siwoku 12 and Lewis Owen 12 all from Liverpool
iverpool fans are seen ahead of 2022 UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris, France
Pictured: Police keep a watchful eye on Liverpool fans this afternoon as they await the Champions League Final tonight
A huge sea of red shirts surrounded the Cours de Vincennes area in the south-east area of the city during the morning, where a fan zone has been set up.
As many as 50,000 supporters, largely ticketless, began gathering early during the day, some starting the drinking from 7am, bringing traffic in the area to a standstill as roads were closed off.
Footballs were being kicked into the air and banners being flown while flares which were prohibited by French authorities were let off in the fan zone.
The huge crowd then sang the club’s well-recognised anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone before cheering club legend Kenny Dalglish to a stage which has been set up.
He told the crowd how remarkable Liverpool’s season had been before fans chanted his name.
A heavy police presence is in the area, including armed officers.
Fan John Racks, 39, from the Wirral, Merseyside, said: ‘Yeah, the drinking started early, the sun’s out now and it’s getting to my head a bit.
‘I’d like to say at nearly 40 I’m careful but I kind of got lost and started drinking this morning, now I’m smashed.
Flares and flags were flying as thousands of Liverpool supporters packed into the fan zone in Paris ahead of the final tonight
Pictured: Sir Kenny Dalglish greets Liverpool supporters in a fan zone in Paris, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final
‘King Kenny’ will be hoping for an exact repeat of one of his legendary feats tonight, when his Liverpool side toppled Real Madrid in the 1981 European Cup final in Paris
You’ll never walk alone: Liverpool fans in Paris, France, this afternoon as they await the Champions League Final tonight
We made it: Liverpool supporters gather in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday
‘The atmosphere here is boss, the city is red.’
Another said: ‘I’m sat here on top of some statue in Paris with my mates, there’s nothing more you need. Just a few beers and hopefully a win for the Reds, lovely.’
Fans could be seen carrying large boxes of beer and singing about the team manager Jurgen Klopp and the players.
Supporter Luke Queens, 23, said: ‘I’m proper nervous, confident in the team but it’s a final isn’t it? I hope the beer settles my nerves before then, we need the first goal.’
Outside of football, Britons’ half-term getaways have been blighted by chaos at UK airports, with carrier easyJet cancelling more than 200 flights over the next 10 days.
Passengers have blasted the service at Manchester Airport as ‘carnage’ while a traveller at Gatwick Airport described a five-hour delay before boarding an Easyjet flight – only for it then to be cancelled.
Rob Scott posted online: ‘Carnage at Manchester Airport this morning. Terminal two [is] rammed with people, huge queues, big delays setting off due to luggage not being loaded on to planes due to staff shortages.’
Jimtheboy tweeted: ‘Utter carnage at terminal one at Manchester Airport today. Baggage conveyors broken, hardly any staff, no organisation… total shambles.’
Elsewhere, entrepreneur Oliver Bruce and his friend Harry Bethell drove from Cheltenham to Gatwick yesterday to board a flight to Monaco for the F1 over the weekend.
Passengers have blasted the service at Manchester Airport as ‘carnage’ as the half-term holidays begun
Passengers queue for check-in this morning at Manchester airport at terminal 2 as the half term holiday gateway begins
He said: ‘It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We got to the airport at 2pm yesterday but the flight kept getting pushed back from its initial call time.’
Eventually, the gates opened and by 8.25pm, passengers had boarded the plane -only to then to be ordered to disembark.
Mr Bruce said: ‘We were all told to leave due to ‘cabin crew working over their allotted time’.
‘I asked the man on front desk, ‘is it likely to fly or do I need to find alternative options: and he said ‘I have spoke to the captain and he’s 99.9% sure we will fly.”
Shortly afterwards, passengers were sent an email informing them the flight had indeed been cancelled.
Mr Bruce and Mr Bethell waited at the airport until 11pm before they were eventually escorted back through passport control and drove back to Cheltenham.
He added: ‘It was a total disaster. Nobody was informed what to do, with the next flight being Monday… There was no apology, no explanation of where to go or how to get out of the airport.
‘I feel sorry for those wanting or needing to visit family, loved ones, sick relatives or go to weddings.’
Passengers queue in the underground car park outside terminal 1 this morning at Manchester Airport
In an announcement yesterday, Easyjet said its cancellations would affect about 24 flights per day from London’s Gatwick airport between May 28 and June 6.
It added the cancellations were ‘necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period’.
It comes after a software failure forced EasyJet to cancel around 200 flights on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the company said in a statement: ‘We have taken the decision to make advance cancellations of around 24 Gatwick flights per day starting from May 28 until June 6.
‘We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights, however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period.
‘Customers are being informed from Friday and provided with the option to rebook their flight or receive a refund and can apply for compensation in line with regulations.’
‘Over the next week we will be operating around 1,700 flights per day, with around a quarter of these operating to and from Gatwick.’
Nicola Caine (left), 37, from Cheshire, was due to fly from Manchester Airport to Tenerife on Monday in a group of 13 with her husband, children and several family members. They were booked on the EZY1903 easyJet flight to Tenerife South for a seven-day holiday, which cost around £2,500
Airline passengers were also stuck in lengthy queues at airports such as Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Bristol.
There is also high demand for sailings from families embarking on trips to the continent for half-term.
The port advised passengers to ‘pack adequate supplies including food and water’ as it is expecting ‘a very busy week ahead’.
A mother has spoken of her ‘nightmare’ experience with easyJet after her flight to Tenerife was cancelled first at Manchester and then at Gatwick – leading to her family being forced to sleep on an airport floor, and treated like ‘animals’.
Nicola Caine, 37, from Cheshire, was due to fly from Manchester Airport to Tenerife on Monday in a group of 13 with her husband, children and several family members.
The group had booked a package holiday with easyJet to celebrate Ms Caine’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary and their 60th birthdays.
They were booked on the EZY1903 easyJet flight to Tenerife South for a seven-day holiday, which cost around £2,500.
Ms Caine described how the experience was ‘one problem after another’, which was traumatising for her family, especially her 12-year-old son, who is autistic.
After their Manchester flight was cancelled, they had to go on a five-hour coach journey to Gatwick to catch another flight to Tenerife. When that was also cancelled, they were told to go to another gate and look at new flights on the easyJet app. Above, exhausted family members on the floor at Gatwick
With no accommodation to stay in and no food, Ms Caine and her family – including her 12-year-old autistic son – resorted to sleeping wherever they could find space
It comes as a Red Army of Liverpool football fans began to arrive in Paris from Friday as French police prepared to welcome them for the European Cup Final this evening.
A massive security operation swung into action on Friday, in time for kick off against Spanish Champions Real Madrid on Saturday night.
‘We expect upwards of 60,000 Liverpool fans alone to come, and about two-thirds will be without tickets,’ said a local police spokesman.
‘There will be less from Madrid, but both sets of supporters will be encouraged to use fan zones and to respect others enjoying the city this weekend’.
The police confirmed that 6,000 police and gendarmes would be on the streets of the French capital over the weekend.
Many of the Liverpool faithful in the centre of the city had come from thousands of miles away, including the United States and South America.
Among those touching down in the French capital for Saturday’s crunch game was the Mindel family from Melbourne, Australia.
‘The flight took 24-hours, but it was worth it for a game like this,’ said Alyssa Mindel, 27, who has supported the Reds all her life.
Pictured: Liverpool fans take a selfie at a cafe ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
Pictured: Liverpool fans outside of the Gare du Nord ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
‘You don’t spend 24-hours on a plane expecting your team to lose, so we’re hoping for a great game and a good win.’
Daniel Mindel, 17, said: ‘We were super lucky to get tickets and found accommodation pretty easily too.
‘We belong to a Liverpool friendship group, and members are coming to the game from all over the world.’
Kim Cunningham, 27, and her brother David Cunningham, 18, were over from Dublin, and also expected a ‘very exciting game,’ said Kim.
‘I think we’re looking at either 3-2 to Liverpool, or 2-1,’ added Kim, who said the family had been fans of the club, which traditionally has huge support in Ireland, all their lives.
Welsh Liverpool fans Dominic Breen, 50, and his son, Connor Breen, 24, were in Paris after journey from the Valleys, and also fully expected a win.
‘We’ve both been big fans all our lives,’ said Dominic. ‘We get to as many games as we can, and I expect a draw in this final, with Liverpool to win on penalties.’
‘We had to be here, and started to make plans before the semi-final,’ said Arash Shahideh, a 57-year-old from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
‘I’ve supported Liverpool all my life, and get to Anfield as much as I can,’ said Mr Shahideh, who was with his sons, Kia Shahideh, 26, and Ata Shahideh, 23.
A Liverpool fan rides a scooter down a street ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
Arash Shahideh, a 57-year-old from Philadelphia (right) and his two sons Kia and Ata
Rowan Poudley and Annan Parmar from Bristol and Kathalina Sanchez soak up the atmosphere
‘We’ve flown over for a long weekend, and all of us have tickets, thankfully. We’re hoping for a 2-1 win for Liverpool.’
Liverpudlians Ben Hines, 23, Ben Lee, 22 and Chris McCarthy, 20, had flown into Paris from their home city and were showing off a red flag reading ‘Liverpool FC : Wherever You Go, I Go’.
All are loyal and experienced fans who have followed their club all over the world, so had little trouble organising a successful trip.
‘We managed to find a studio to stay in for less than £200 for the weekend, and two of us have tickets so far,’ said Mr Hines, who is a veteran of epic finals including Liverpool’s game against Real Madrid in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2018.
‘There were a lot of flight cancellations from Liverpool when we came over to Paris this time round, but we were very lucky, and weren’t affected,’ Mr Hines added.
Rowan Poudley and Annan Parmar, two 19-year-olds from Bristol, were determined to be in Paris for the atmosphere.
Both are students on their gap year – Mr Poudley is off to Liverpool University to study Criminology, and Mr Parmar will be reading Politics at Birmingham.
‘Neither of us have tickets, but that won’t stop us enjoying the game,’ said Mr Parmar. ‘We managed to find a decent place to stay out of the city, and public transport has been pretty good so far.’
Liverpudlians Ben Hines, 23, Ben Lee, 22 and Chris McCarthy, 20 show off their flag in Paris
Kathalina Sanchez, 35, is from Colombia and a massive fan of Liverpool’s star Colombian striker, Luis Diaz.
‘I just hope he can score on Satuday,’ said Ms Sanchez, who was with friends from Lyon, eastern France, where she is currently working.
‘I’ve been a supporter of Liverpool since I was a little girl, as my dad was a big fan. I started out loving Michael Owen and my captain, Stevie Gerrard, and now I love players like Diaz and Sadio Mané.’
Dror Moran, a 55-year-old Israeli, flew in especially for the game, along with his son, Ido Moran, 22.
Dror Moran, a 55-year-old Israeli, flew in especially for the game with his son, Ido
‘I’ve been a Liverpool fan for more than 40 years, since the 1970s,’ said Mr Moran. ‘We’ve managed to get tickets through UEFA, and accommodation too. We’re hoping that Liverpool can win 2-1’.
Liverpool fans arriving in Paris via Eurostar said tickets were ‘like gold dust’ with many saying they were just there to savour the atmosphere.
Dad Finton O’Leary, 48, from Shrewsbury arrived with his son Jon Joe, 10, on a packed train from London St Pancras, told MailOnline: ‘We don’t have a ticket for the game. They are like gold dust but we are here for the atmosphere.
‘If we can get a ticket so be it but if not we will watch the game in a fan zone or a restaurant somewhere in Paris.
‘A Champions League Final is always something worth going to and to be in the city where Liverpool are playing is fantastic.’
Jon Joe, wearing a Liverpool scarf, said: ‘I’m really excited and looking forward to the game. I don’t mind watching it in TV and I’m confident we will win 2-1 with goals from Mane and Diaz.’
Dentist Fayaz Ladak, 43, arrived on the same train with his researcher wife Shiela, after travelling from their home in Leeds and we’re both wearing Liverpool shirts.
Shiela said: ‘I’m really excited about the game. It’s my first final and I can’t wait. I’m confident Liverpool will win 3-1. It’s going to be a fantastic night.
‘It was quiet on the train, not as much singing as I expected but then again it was a very early start from London and I’m sure it will get better as the day goes on.’
Fayaz, who paid €1360 for his ticket after getting them through a club ballot said: ‘I went to Kyiv when we lost to Real Madrid and I was in Madrid when we beat Tottenham.
‘This match will be pay back for Kyiv. It will be tough but I’m confident we will win 3-2. The atmosphere will be fantastic.
Left: Finton O’Leary and his son, Jon Joe, 10, arrived via train but don’t have tickets for the match. Right: Kevin Owens and his sons Tyler, 19, and Ashley, 12, are excited for the clash
Liverpool supporters pose for the camera after arriving at Gard de Nord on Friday morning
‘Liverpool fans when they go away know how to party. There won’t be any trouble it will just be an all day party and if the fan zone is anything like Madrid and Kyiv it will be amazing.’
Architect Kevin Owens, 51, was also at Gare du Nord with his sons Tyler, 19, and Ashley, 12, after travelling from Welling Garden City, Hertfordshire and also have tickets for the game.
Kevin said: ‘It was an early start for us but it’s going to be worth it. We are all big Liverpool fans and we were lucky with the tickets as I helped design the Stade de France.
‘I’m involved with the Paris Olympics 2024 so that’s how we got the tickets but even if we didn’t have them we would still come over.
‘We booked the train and accommodation three weeks ago and it was really pricey but now we are here we are going to enjoy ourselves.’
Ashley, who is taking a break from camping in his garden to raise money for a dog charity, said: ‘I’ve been in the tent for 423 nights so two have two nights in a bed will be great.
Dentist Fayaz Ladak and his wife Shiela travelled from Leeds to Paris for Saturday night’s final
Fans take their first steps into Paris after taking the Eurostar from London ahead of the game
‘I’m so excited about the match and can’t wait. It’s going to be 3-1 to Liverpool.’
Bars around the Gare du Nord were also packed with Liverpool fans enjoying an early morning point and the atmosphere was good natured.
Police kept a discreet eye on supporters as they sang and chanted but one security source told local French media: ‘We don’t expect any trouble from Liverpool but we are wary of local Paris St Germain supporters looking to start fights and local criminals exploiting visitors.’
UEFA officials have set up a Fan Zone for Liverpool fans in the east of the city at Cours de Vincennes, six miles from the ground, with the gates opening from midday and food and drink on offer as well as music from the Lightening Seeds.
Real who are only expected to have around 30,000 fans in Paris have a similar zone set up for them close to the stadium in the north of the city.
Around 7,000 police officers will be on duty for the game and the sale of alcohol around the ground has been banned from 6pm on Saturday until 2am on Sunday morning but fans will be able to drink in the stadium.
The area around the famous Champs-Elysses in the centre of Paris was closed on Thursday by police and will not reopen until Sunday evening.
A Paris police statement said:’ For this occasion various measures have been put in place by the Prefecture de Police to ensure the smooth running of the match and to guarantee the fans safety in the vicinity of the Stade de France and the fan zones.’
The final was originally due to have been played in Saint Petersburg but UEFA moved it to France after stripping Russia of the glamour game following their invasion of Ukraine.
Huge queues at airports for families hoping to go on half-term breaks
The half-term getaway for families in Britain ground to a halt on Friday as thousands faced huge queues at airports across the country amid widespread staffing shortages – with more than 30,000 easyJet passengers also affected by hundreds of flight cancellations.
Airports in the UK are still struggling to recover from Covid restrictions and are struggling to hire enough staff to meet surging demand while Britain faces a tight labour market with more vacancies than job-seekers.
Compounding the problem, an IT crash hitting easyJet left the holiday plans of families in the lurch. The airline cancelled 14 more flights to and from London Gatwick Airport today after calling off more than 200 yesterday.
There were queues of passengers at London Heathrow Airport on Friday morning as families aimed to go on their half-term holidays
Liverpool football fans hoping to reach the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris were also faced chaotic journeys after flights to the French capital were axed from Manchester and Bristol.
Other fliers suffered more than 360 delays with routes such as Belfast to Corfu and Liverpool to Dalaman also affected by the disruption, which poses a serious threat to families’ half-term holidays if the issue reoccurs.
Those jetting off from Gatwick, Bristol and Manchester airports have been among the worst hit, with travellers describing scenes of chaos during and either side of the two hours when the IT failure hit on Thursday at 1pm.
There were also huge queues Luton and Heathrow on Friday morning, and the Unite union warned that the problems could continue next week and even get worse during the summer holidays because of staff shortages.