Updated: May 30, 2022
The Champion's League Final is a game every soccer fan around the world dreams of playing in. It is the one game in sports where the winner can truly say that they are the best in the world for that year. There is no other sport in the world that has the global reach and interest that soccer does, and no other sport in the world that has a tournament for all the top teams in the world. The Champions League Final is truly the mountaintop of success.
All that said, the events that took place before the start of the game is not what UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, wanted for the first Champions League match with full capacity in two years. The start of the match was delayed for 30+ minutes due to what UEFA said in the stadium, at least at the time was due to "late arriving fans."
As more videos and reports were released throughout the delay, it was then discovered that the Liverpool side of the stadium was having trouble getting through the gates. You could clearly see the difference between the two sides of the stadium as the Real Madrid side was much fuller than Liverpool's. There were reports of tear gas and pepper spray being used on the Liverpool fans. Gates were being shut down, fans were funneled like cattle to one area. Fans were seen jumping fences to get into the stadium, and it was unclear what team some of them supported, but it is to be assumed it was mostly Liverpool fans.
(PhotoCredit: @Realmadrid on Twitter)
Even as the game eventually started the Liverpool side was still visibly empty, fans were having issues getting in as late as half time. UEFA issued a statement saying.
"In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles."
This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kickoff was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kickoff, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.
UEFA issued a statement saying," The UEFA is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation."
That statement was quickly argued by journalists and supporters alike, as they claimed lack of organization, and unnecessary police tactics. Many fans have said they were denied access even while having an authentic ticket to the game, being told their ticket was fake, which even happened to a friend of Liverpool's Defensemen Andy Robertson. After the game Robertson addressed the media with this.
“The biggest game in world football, these situations shouldn’t be happening and unfortunately UEFA have messed up," said Robertson. "When you come in after the game, you go on your phone and you see everyone struggle to get in, the French police being pretty heavy-handed, people who have got legitimate tickets being told they are fake tickets, which happened to one of my mates and I can assure you it wasn’t a fake ticket so when it comes to it, they have just panicked. He luckily managed to get in because one of the club representatives sorted it, but they said it was a fake ticket which I can assure you it wasn’t. For me it shouldn’t really happen, UEFA should have been better organized.”
Liverpool themselves issued their own statement on the events that occurred and are demanding answers.
"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," said the club. "We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues."
This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.
Liverpool is all too familiar with situations like these, as they were the victims of one of English football's worst tragedies. The disaster of Hillsborough happened in 1989, where 97 fans died and hundreds more were injured due to terrible organization, and unforgiving mistakes made by police. With the history behind another harrowing incident, you can be certain this isn't something Liverpool and its fans will drop any time soon.
After events such as these, it's hard to transition to the lesser concern, the actual game. but a game was indeed played throughout all this chaos, and I would be remiss not to talk about it. Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 on a goal from Vinicius Junior in the 58th minute. It was a nail biter of a game throughout all 90 minutes with Liverpool peppering Real Madrid with shots all game. They came close quite a few times, with a couple goal posts being hit, but Thibaut Courtois made many incredible saves.
Real Madrid had some chances of their own as a Karim Benzema goal was called back after it was ruled offsides minutes before halftime. In the end Real Madrid's goalkeeper was too much for Liverpool to handle as they couldn't get anything past him. Some may wonder how much of an effect the situation outside the stadium could have had on the players of Liverpool, but ultimately Madrid raised the trophy at the end of the day.
It will be an interesting couple of weeks as information starts to unravel about what truly happened before the start of this historic game. Until then, a well-deserved congratulations to Real Madrid as they are your 2021-2022 Champions League winners.