Incidents at the Stade de France: what to remember from the hearings of Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra

Incidents at the Stade de France: what to remember from the hearings of Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra

Four days after the excesses during the Champions League final at the Stade de France, Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Minister of Sports were heard in the Senate on the reasons for organizational failures.

Gérald Darmanin explained to speak with the “concern for transparency”, ensuring that “the government has nothing to hide”. In the preamble, he also wanted to say that he regretted the criticisms made against the police. A total of 6,800 police and gendarmes were mobilized, he said, believing that the numbers were “largely” sufficient.

“It is obvious that things could have been better organised”, nevertheless acknowledged the minister. He notably pointed out the difficulties on the RER B and D lines, linked to the strike. From 7 p.m., up to 15,000 people were massed between the exit of a station and the pre-filtering area.

However, between 50% and 70% of the tickets presented to the stewards were fake, according to the minister. Two types of fraud have been identified: fake tickets bought voluntarily “on the run”, and fake tickets bought “in all honesty”, in the words of the minister. This mass of people who could not pass the pre-filtering zone, added to those arriving from the RER, led to the first problems, he explained.

A pre-filtering lifted, the police intervene to protect access to the stadium

The pre-filtering was therefore lifted to avoid “tragedies”, allowing everyone to pass, at the request of the prefect of police, said Gérald Darmanin. However, this resulted in a new blockage at the stadium turnstiles, with more than 2,500 tickets refused. They were either fake tickets or valid tickets that had been duplicated by the counterfeiters and whose holders had already entered.

This new blockage resulted in an influx of people against the gates of the stadium. The security forces were therefore deployed inside the enclosure to prevent crowd movement and contain the pressure on the turnstiles. The gates being set to yield in the event of too much pressure (300kg), the risk was an invasion of the stadium.

Gérald Darmanin specified that 30,000 to 40,000 additional people, without tickets or in possession of counterfeit tickets, found themselves last Saturday in front of the stadium. Some were able to enter the stadium, but the vast majority remained in front of the gates.

Police redeployed and no longer able to fight crime

Regarding the figures for arrests, 29 took place around the stadium, in connection with the sporting event. 81 others were for acts of delinquency, including 25 foreigners, coming from a country outside the EU, revealed Gérald Darmanin. The minister explained that the authorities probably underestimated the disturbances to public order on the sidelines of the match.

This was notably linked to the lifting of the pre-filtering cord, which in principle makes it possible to clear a protected area from this crime. The police having been redeployed to protect the gates, there were not enough left to operate against the muggers and thieves who attacked the supporters.

Gérald Darmanin unveiled the possibility of filing complaints from England and Spain for supporters who had to return to their countries.

Five points to improve

Regrets were expressed about the use of tear gas, especially in the presence of children, and for the 2,700 supporters with valid tickets but unable to see the match. Financial compensation, in consultation with UEFA, should be offered to them, said Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

In addition to this compensation, the Minister named three other decisions taken following the excesses: requesting an investigation from UEFA, in particular on counterfeit tickets, producing a public report and strengthening the management of major events, in particular risky meetings.

She then concluded by pointing out five points for improvement, for the next organization of sporting events in France: flow management, communication to supporters taking public transport, security, more effective integration of anti-corruption services delinquency among those responsible for managing the running of the event, and the more systematic use of electronic ticketing.