Liverpool fans cover their mouths and noses as they queue to gain entry to the Stade de France (Peter Byrne)

French minister ‘apologises’ to Liverpool for “painful memories” of Hillsborough

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the French sports minister at the heart of the chaos in Paris, has apologised to Liverpool fans for “painful memories” of Hillsborough.

In the wake of the events outside the Stade de France and around Saint-Denis on May 28, Oudéa-Castéra has come to represent the stubbornness and barefaced lies of the French authorities.

Liverpool fans were immediately blamed for the scenes at the stadium, which saw thousands denied entry after being kettled, crushed, tear-gassed and attacked.

While UEFA were forced to perform a climb-down in their blaming upon complaints from both Liverpool and Real Madrid, both Oudéa-Castéra and interior minister Gérald Darmanin have largely held their ground.

But in a letter sent to Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, seen by the Times‘ Martyn Ziegler, she made a delayed apology to Reds supporters.

“First and foremost, I would like to sincerely apologise to the Liverpool fans whose evening was ruined,” she wrote.

“We are conscious of the fact that many of them came from far away, often with their family and sometimes even young children, to support their team and attend a memorable game of football.

“We regret that some of them had to witness scenes that have no place at all at a sporting event, all the more so as we are aware that it may have brought back particularly painful memories from your club’s history.”

PARIS, FRANCE - Saturday, May 28, 2022: Liverpool supporters before the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stade de France. (Photo by Propaganda)

It is, of course, a bit late, particularly given the stance Oudéa-Castéra has taken throughout the fallout.

As Ziegler further details, she even maintains that “a large and hard-to-anticipate number of counterfeit tickets carried by British supporters” was the “primary cause of the incidents.”

She did, at least, admit that there had been “several successive failures” from the French authorities, and vowed “to make sure that it will never happen again.”