Following riots during Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris, more shocking information about organized gangs, made up primarily of Middle Eastern and African youths, is coming to light.
As Remix News reported yesterday, British and Spanish fans who arrived in Paris were subjected to mass assaults and thefts outside the Stade de Paris in the troubled, multicultural neighborhood of Saint-Denis, and witnesses are coming forward to share their traumatic experiences.
One Spanish fan speaking with French news channel CNews said that he arrived at the stadium with his family, when organized gangs targeted them:
“They attacked me. There were hundreds of ‘youngsters,’ or men, they were all men… They attacked me, and took my four tickets. They had cost me €6,000, but it didn’t matter anymore, we were scared for ourselves and for our children… At the exit, it was even worse. There were even more assailants. They tried to steal my wife’s bag. The attackers were watching my children cry, and they were laughing. They found our fear amusing.”
Across the entire area, these roving gangs attacked people en masse, often sending them to the hospital in the process. According to sports publication Goal, one eyewitness’ graphic account relates just how extreme the situation became for some.
“There were gangs roaming around outside, looking to mug and attack Liverpool fans. We saw one lad have his watch robbed, then my brother, who was a minute or so behind me, started shouting that someone had taken his phone and his money.
“A few of them managed to catch the lad, but then four or five others came from nowhere. My brother had his face slashed, his mate had his head cut open, and another lad was bottled [smashed with a bottle].”
“They went to the police station, but the officers weren’t interested. ‘Go to the hospital,’ they were told,” the man said.
“When they got to the hospital, there was a fella in there who had been hit by a metro train when running away from someone with a knife, there were loads who’d been beaten up or hit with bottles. It was grim.”
Caoimhe O’Neill, of The Athletic, described being in abject terror after a gang ran up to her and other supporters outside the stadium: “I never thought I would be so happy to leave such a beautiful city,” she tweeted Sunday morning.
Other journalists wrote that the whole issue of counterfeit tickets is merely to deflect attention from the robberies involving youth from the “no-go zones” that exist throughout France.
“The official version of the French authorities: The problems in the Stade de France were because there were too many Englishmen with fake tickets. However, the testimonies at the scene give account of robberies, groping by locals from the ‘no-go zone’ and police disorganization,” wrote French-Spanish journalist and author Alejo Schapire.
Grégory Joron from the SGP Police Unit said that it was too easy to blame the police. For him, too, the problem came from alleged counterfeit tickets and a lack of organization by the sports authorities, which was exacerbated by the “descent of individuals who came to rob the spectators.”
“We had never seen it on such a scale. Spectators were completely stripped, including their clothes,” Riberio said, adding that these scenes lasted until late at night.
As Remix News reported, other police union leaders have already addressed who was behind the thefts and assaults.
“Never had the police seen such chaos,” Gregory Goupil, secretary-general of the Alliance 93 police union, said to the news channel TF1 Info: “Colleagues have told us they had never seen so many unaccompanied minors, mostly North Africans, clustered and hyperactive. Local criminals were also present, but they were not dominant at all, according to them. One thing is certain, pickpockets came in droves to steal cash, wallets, or phones, sometimes even from the visually impaired or people in wheelchairs.”
As video evidence shows, large mobs of Africans and Middle Easterners hunted down English fans, often violently assaulting them.
Police officers on the ground, who requested anonymity, described multiple incidents of theft and robbery. “It didn’t stop. We have seen packs initiate countless flights,” one of them claimed.
Much of the press and political establishment in France is focusing on the issue of counterfeit tickets allegedly held by some British fans, which led many Brits to be blocked from even entering the stadium, and eventually to French police tear-gassing them, including families with children, despite no signs of serious unrest besides angry chants.
Despite the growing scandal, French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin quickly proclaimed that there is no time for self-criticism. Darmanin made the spurious claim that up to 40,000 Brits had turned up in Paris with either no ticket or counterfeit tickets, placing blame for the chaotic scenes squarely at the feet of Liverpool supporters who had traveled by sea, land and air to attend the historic occasion. However, new reports show that despite claims of fake tickets, only 2,800 counterfeits were scanned, which vastly contradicts the 40,000 to 50,000 number put forth by Darmanin.
“Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra will explain themselves to the Senate after the chaos on Saturday evening at the Stade de France. According to them, more than 30,000 counterfeit tickets were used at the stadium. According to RMC Sport information, it’s less than 3,000,” wrote the RMC Info news account.
The mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, who had his credit card, phone and tickets stolen outside the stadium, also praised English fans for acting in an orderly manner, and said in an interview that “these gangs were well organized.”
More information about arrests have come out as well, and there is a remarkable lack of English-sounding names. Some have already been sentenced in court for theft, including two illegal immigrant Algerians, one illegal immigrant Palestinian, and three Peruvians.
Merseyside Police issued a statement on Tuesday following the claims made by the French interior ministry that tens of thousands of supporters had arrived late and with fake tickets, confirming that a formal investigation into the policing of the event had been requested by Liverpool Football Club.
According to the statement, British police who were deployed in France to work in an “observatory and advisory capacity with the local officers,” reported that the “vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queuing as directed,” and said they would pass on such observations to any relevant inquiry.