Bandits were drawn there like into hunting grounds. What happened at the Stade de France?

They came from all directions, not only locals from the neighbouring blocks of flats but also illegal immigrants camping near the ring road, crack dealers and the notorious MENAs - Middle East and North African offenders – read: "unaccompanied foreign minors", the terror of the north-eastern districts of Paris, with no faith or integrity. It was the Golden Harvest for them.

It took eight months for the UEFA's investigative committee to publish a report on the events that occurred on Saturday, May 28th, 2022 at the Stade de France near Paris. Most of the sports world has already forgotten about them, although this hot topic did not disappear from the newspapers’ headlines for many days and even shook the world of politics.

It was going to be a high-profile event. In the Champions League Finals, Real Madrid – Spain’s champions, were to face Liverpool - runners-up of England. However, for many days the media wrote about what happened outside the stadium rather than Real's victory over Liverpool and the duel between the titans at the legendary Stade de France. For fans of both teams, the celebration of sports turned into hell, which still reverberates to this day.

The first alarming reports from the stadium’s vicinity appeared on social media even before the match started on Saturday at 21.00. It must be admitted that they sounded like a script of a thriller. Fans of both teams - especially the numerous Englishmen - arrived there a few hours earlier to have time to enter calmly, prepare the setting in the stands, sing, take selfies for their buddies and order the first pints of beers. Unfortunately, the inefficiency of the French organisers and the efficiency of immigrant gangs meant that their plans were thwarted.

As far as the first aspect is concerned, it is difficult to call what happened anything other than a complete organisational failure of the French: most of the gates closed for unknown reasons and the capacity of the others limited; the ticket control machines jammed and the staff's clumsiness caused massive congestion around the stadium. Thousands of fans - with tickets bought at a considerable price - for this important event, with the participation of their favourite team, were not given a chance to enter the stadium before the referee's first whistle - delayed by 36 minutes - which was a total embarrassment. Many of them did not enter the stadium at all.

At the same time, as shown by numerous videos posted on social media, many people without a ticket somehow got into the stadium. They were mainly young residents of the surrounding blocks of flats, mostly of immigrant origin, who managed to force the security without undue difficulty, pass under the barriers with the silent participation of the staff, and sometimes jump over the fence and run over a dozen meters separating the fence from the stands. The lack of concern from the stewards in the videos was as embarrassing as the ease with which the laughable security of France's premier sports facility could be breached.
Many fans did not enter the stadium at all. REUTERS / Reuters / Forum
On one side, there was an organisational issue with entering the stadium; on the other, an existing problem of lack of security before and after the match. What actually happened at the Stade de France? Let's try to sort out the facts.

Chaos before the match

The problems began with the typical French railway strike. The unions paralysed access from the centre of Paris to the stadium by the RER B commuter train line. Fans switched en masse to the RER D line, from which stop it was problematic to get to the stadium on foot: it is simply further away, the streets are narrow, and you even have to go through a tunnel.

  Seeing this happen, the organisers decided to resign from the first control, where fans without tickets are separated from those holding ones and those with tickets for verification, probably forged ones. Now, these three categories have been mixed together, causing crowds and problems at the stadium gates. They were mostly English, as the Spaniards arrived at the match by coaches and in groups, avoiding unreliable public transport. The result was rather simple: crowding, stress, delay of the match, nervous reactions of the Police, and gassing calm fans blindly and for no reason; generally speaking - a real mess that the "boys next door" took advantage of.

Hundreds of them jumped over the fence without any tickets. They were not grabbed by the stewards – usually found through casual advertisements – hired only a week earlier, without any formation, guidance and competence, unable to stop the intruders, who were often their colleagues from the block of flats.

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But it wasn't the stowaway that was the main activity of the immigrant youth that evening. Even before the end of the match, Spanish sports journalist Sergio Santos summed up Saturday night's unbelievable events in a short tweet. "I've been to many finals, and I am experienced enough. However, never before have I seen anything like this, which is happening now at the Stade de France. Around the stadium, there are groups of French people attacking sports fans and robbing them. I'm not talking about rumours, but what I've seen with my own eyes."

Indeed, the hot coverage on social media, richly embellished with photos and videos, followed by testimonials published in the British and Spanish press, makes an out-of-this-world impression. The sports fans’ stories have many pop culture references that appeal to the imagination: here - a frightened Spanish mother with her daughter recalled the game "American Nightmare", there - the beaten-up Brits talked about scenes like from the "Walking Dead" movie.

Golden Harvest

All hell broke loose in Paris after the finals. "These were armies of bandits hunting for the football fans". British sports journalist Jim Beglin put it bluntly: "Last night after the game, it was the scariest thing I've ever experienced. Organised criminal groups began to attack the departing sports fans. We passed through a row of street thugs on the way to the subway. Not even a single policeman in sight. Instead, we could witness ongoing attacks on unsuspecting anything wrong event participants.”

They came from all directions, not only locals from the neighbouring blocks of flats, but also illegal immigrants camping near the ring road, crack dealers and the notorious MENAs – that is "unaccompanied foreign minors" - the terror of the north-eastern districts of Paris, with no faith or integrity. It was the Golden Harvest for them.

Fans took cash from ATMs before the game and everyone had cell phones; many had watches, gold necklaces, handbags and sachets. The organised groups of several- to several dozen people armed with knives, metal bars, baseball bats and machetes kept attacking the fans, robbing, beating and mistreating them - even ripping off their clothes. Many oppressors were equipped with chisels to cut off the bag straps.

Witnesses speak about attacks on children, women or even disabled people in wheelchairs. The theme of sexual harassment of vulnerable women emerged only after the events.
Hundreds of victims of aggression began to flow into Parisian police stations. Few attackers were arrested. Photo. YOAN VALAT/EPA/PAP
Several hundred bandits flocked to the stadium as if to a self-service store or rather to a fishing ground.

Order: do not intervene

"One team could commit countless thefts," said the local policemen who criticised the prefecture's decision not to send them - who know the local thugs best- to protect the football fans. The Police had a clear order: no intervention, no personal initiative. In order not to stress the fans and not give the impression of a police state, the riot police squads were deployed quite far from the stadium. Many constables from the police stations, when they witnessed robberies, took the "goodies" from the thugs and returned them immediately to the theft victims, but this was a drop in the ocean of needs.

In the evening, hundreds of aggression victims arrived at the Parisian police stations. However, most of them didn't even bother to complain – when the Liverpool Club asked for testimonials from the disastrous night, they collected 5,000 in 24 hours! At the same time, almost 300 people ended up in emergency rooms and Parisian hospitals with broken noses and heads or cuts and wounds from knives, machetes and broken bottles. In videos revealed on social media post-factum, British fans admitted that it was the worst experience of their entire life and that never again would they come to France for another match.

The foreign press, somewhat less constrained by political correctness than the French media, bluntly pointed to the common denominator of all the attackers: the ethnic origin. The Spanish "Marca" newspaper bluntly wrote that: "in Paris, for several years, there has been a serious problem of immigration and ghettos, which has a large impact on the whole of French society."

Saint-Denis, or the ticking bomb

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And this is the bottom line. The reason for the events at the Stade de France is not only the organisational chaos but a completely different factor – namely, the facility’s location.

Less than four weeks before the finals, ex-footballer Thierry Henry - a member of the legendary 1998 French national football team that won the World Cup for France - warned during a discussion on one of the American TV channels: "Technically speaking - the stadium is in Saint-Denis. Saint-Denis is not Paris." "Believe me, you wouldn't want to be in Saint-Denis; it’s not the same as Paris," added the former Arsenal striker, drawing the wrath of the city's leftist mayor, unhappy with this anti-promotion.

It's hard to argue with him: the Seine-Saint-Denis department near Paris has been a symbol of colonisation-type immigration for many years. The former Ceinture Rouge/"Red Belt", i.e. the working-class suburban area surrounding the capital of France - which for almost a century voted for the left, especially for the communist party - has completely changed its face. With the process of deindustrialisation, working-class housing estates have slowly turned into ethnic suburbs, where 60% of new-borns are given Muslim names, where the native French flee from whenever they can, and where the Ministry of Education pays bonuses of 10,000 euros per year for teachers who will not leave their profession for ten years, where there are many more mosques than parishes, and drug mafias control numerous districts. It is here, where there is located the largest concentration of the infamous "no-go zones" in France, today comically referred to - by the French Ministry of Interior - as "zones of the Republican Reconquest ".

In Saint-Denis alone, crime is rampant: robberies per thousand people are 36.39%, compared to 20.56% for the department, 13.12% for the region and 10.64% for France. Here, the election is won by the party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who - following the advice of Bertold Brecht - changed his electorate from a working-class (that one votes for Le Pen) to an Islamist-immigrant one as part of the strategy popularly known as "Islamo-leftism".

All successive French governments have timidly tried to do something about that ticking bomb. Still, usually it came down to pumping billions of euros more using different excuses: urban policy, renovation of blocks of flats, equal opportunities, the fight against discrimination, and recently very fashionable ecology. Because contrary to popular opinion, the department is the apple of the establishment's eye: in 10 years, it has hosted 2,700 official visits by ministers and presidents, and in 2016 it was there that Emmanuel Macron announced that he would run for president.
French politicians blamed … British football fans for the events. Pictured: Police in front of the stands where Liverpool fans were seated. Photo: YOAN VALAT/EPA/PAP
The construction of the Stade de France on wastelands surrounded by immigrant council estates of gloomy notoriety - like the Francs-Moisins district a few hundred meters away, where drug dealers openly publish the addresses of their dealing points - was just such a gift, into which another two billion euros were sunk. Its annual maintenance costs 5% of the budget of the Ministry of Sports.

According to the assumption, it was supposed to make the area economically more dynamic, but as usual, nothing came of it. The stadium is in deficit (several million a year), and companies that were supposed to move their headquarters there, tempted by the vision of the "French Silicon Valley", return to quieter business districts after a few years, where in the evening, there is no need to take employees to the subway in a taxi accompanied by a security guard. Building a multi-billion-dollar stadium in the middle of an urban jungle didn't turn the wilderness into California (Macron recently made a fool of himself, seriously calling this nightmarish area "California without the sea"). It only puts more game under the claws of predators, culminating in the Champions League final events.

The official narrative, or fake

However, the scandal of events from Stade de France did not end with the fans coming back home. The following aspects are still coming to light. As if the disgrace of France was not big enough, the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Moussa Darmanin, decided to add fuel to the fire, making …. the British sports fans responsible for the incidents.

Blame the victims? Nothing new at all. Macron's chief inspector and sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra began to claim that Liverpool fans, who showed up collectively with fake tickets, were messing around the square in front of the stadium. Despite the mathematical calculations based on the railroad data, Darmanin was in denial until the very end, tweeting: "The source of the problem on Saturday night was a fraud on a massive and industrial scale. 30-40 thousand British fans turned up without any tickets or with counterfeit tickets. Not a word about "the young people from the suburbs." Like that non-commissioned officer’s widow from Gogol’s play, the British flogged themselves.

Moreover, as it turned out later, the French government pressured UEFA to publish precisely the same narrative in the official communiqué the day after the match. And then the UEFA leadership obediently corrected the text!

Only one person gave an even more senseless "explanation", seeing here ... Putin's hand. Left-wing journalist Brice Couturier tweeted: "Mass printing of fake tickets, strike on line B, mobilisation of criminals on social networks... Stade de France: the possibility of Russian sabotage must be considered. The match was originally scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg….” Well, there are conspiracy theories for commoners, but there are assumptions for elites as well.

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Quite quickly, it turned out that the official narrative was a piece of crude fake news, that there were less than 3,000 counterfeit tickets for 80,000 seats (eight months later, UEFA will announce 2,589), which is the norm at such events. The collected testimonies of thousands of fans disprove the official version. The Macron government has decided to lie so insistently only because this tactic usually works; The media picks up the official narrative and the public is starting to believe it without deeper reflection. In the case of the Stade de France scandal, the difference is that the foreign press reacted by forcing the French media to a minimum of journalistic honesty.

Politicians also reacted. Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson tweeted: "I am outraged by the disastrous management and brutal treatment of fans by the French Police and staff at the Champions League final. I am writing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding a reply from UEFA and to President Macron to clarify the matter. Blaming the football fans is disgraceful." Steve Rotheram - the left-wing chairman of the Liverpool region, who had his new mobile phone, credit cards, ID and match tickets stolen - sneered: "Gangs were better organised than UEFA."

On the Spanish side, the riots were witnessed by the spokesman for the patriotic Vox party, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros. This party went further, presenting the incidents at the plenary session of the European Parliament and submitting an interpellation (n°E-002181/2022 of June 16th, 2022) about the sense of European migration policy in a situation where "hundreds of young French - mostly children and grandchildren of immigrants from other continents - took to the streets, fighting with the Police and assaulting thousands of fans, including children, while the media covered up the attacks.

Swedish Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson did not respond until September. She stated - and this is not unusual - that the events had nothing to do with France's immigration policy. However, it is known that blindness at one's own request is a binding doctrine in the European Union...

The scandal also has a legal dimension and affects the judicial system. It turned out that the French prosecutor's office initiated proceedings, but with regard to ... false tickets, not assaults, thefts and robberies. As a result, the tapes from the cameras around the stadium and metro stations were not secured. They were deleted after seven days without the prosecutor's office's request. Thus valuable evidence allowing to determine the course of events and identity of the perpetrators disappeared. Could there be any more compelling proof of the systemic dysfunction of the state on the Seine?

What UEFA recommended to the French

Ironically, the official version of events, promoted by the authorities and obedient media, was smashed to pieces by the same UEFA, which initially acted as an accomplice of the French government in imposing the false narrative. After an eight-month investigation - conducted by a special commission of lawyers, scientists and the supporters' associations representatives – UEFA clarified that "the French security system failed completely during the finals".

"While French authorities focused on the alleged problem of British hooligans” - UEFA writes – “the real problem was created by the French criminals who assaulted English and Spanish sports fans before and after the game." The eyewitnesses maintained the same on social media - not eight months after the match, but before the game even started.

The UEFA report concludes with 21 "recommendations" for French sporting event organisers, including that the ministries of the interior and sport "revise their management model" for mass sports events and that police forces "be used in an exclusively proportionate manner".

Attention should be paid that France will soon host the Rugby World Cup (2023) and the Olympic Games (2024). The unfortunate events at the Stade de France cast a shadow on the organisers’ abilities to secure such affairs properly, raising fears that the black scenario will be repeated.
The landscape after the battle: clashes with the Police also occurred in Paris, near the Place de la Nation. Photo. Ait Adjedjou Karim/ABACA / Abaca Press / Forum
The Olympic village and a press centre for journalists will also be located in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. The nearly 40-hectare area adjacent to the Stade-de-France, which is to house more than 14,500 Olympians, is already seen by local criminals as a future hunting ground, rich in easy prey. It's like placing a honeycomb on an anthill, hoping that nothing special will happen.

How will the Police, having suffered such a defeat in the Champions League, be able to ensure the safety of players, staff and tourists? As some have already suggested, will it be necessary to introduce the army into action, which is not used to handling mass events?

For now, it looks as if security is not at the top of the government's priority list. Experts do not hesitate to call the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games -with the parade of delegations along the Seine in the presence of 600 thousand viewers - "criminal madness". "Nothing is foreseen from the point of view of the safety and security of athletes, organisers and spectators," says leading French criminologist Alain Bauer.

It is already known that the 2024 Olympics will cost the French more than 7 billion euros, and probably even more than 13 billion, considering the average level of budget overruns for this type of event. This is more than the expenditure on the Ministry of Justice. Olympic facilities are not calculated to reimburse costs; revenues from tourism will not offset expenses, so the only "profit" is intangible. It's more about prestige in the international arena, and the Paris Games are a soft power element with no price. Coupons from Baron de Coubertin's “baby” want to be cut off by President Macron, the socialist mayor of the capital Anne Hidalgo, and other various centres of power or influence. The question is whether this calculation will be able to withstand naive angelism and ideological inability to challenge the negative effects of migration policy.

– Adam Gwiazda

TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and journalists

– translated by Katarzyna Chocian
Main photo: Thousands of fans with tickets bought at a considerable price were not given a chance to enter the stadium before the referee's first whistle. Photo. KAI PFAFFENBACH / Reuters / Forum
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