The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, has apologised to “everyone who suffered from bad management” at the Champions League final in Paris.
Darmanin’s comments were described by the Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, who was at the final, as a “hugely significant moment in our collective fight for the truth to be told” and said it strengthened the case for “a full and transparent investigation”.
Darmanin, who has made strongly disputed claims about the number of counterfeit tickets in circulation at the Stade de France, stopped short of saying sorry to the Liverpool fans he blamed for the problems on the night of the club’s defeat by Real Madrid.
“Should the Stade de France have been better managed? The answer is yes,” he told the French radio station RTL after supporters were locked out and teargassed after serious congestion problems developed. “Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes. Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event.”
After the match supporters complained of being robbed by local gangs and said police, who had earlier employed heavy-handed methods in an attempt to deal with the growing crowd issue, had offered no protection.
Darmanin said they had learned from that and that France’s two recent Nations League matches and the Top 14 rugby final at the stadium had passed off without major incident.
“It profoundly changed the organisation of the police headquarters,” he said. “I changed the organisation to fight against delinquency because, if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency.”
This month Darmanin apologised to a French Senate committee hearing for “the disproportionate use of teargas” but his claims that 30,000 to 40,000 supporters without tickets or with fake tickets travelled to the Stade de France were rejected by a Uefa official, Martin Kallen.
Uefa’s head of events said about 2,600 counterfeits were taken to the turnstiles. He added: “A lot of tickets didn’t get to the turnstiles … How many? We don’t know, we can’t really verify. We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France, which was more or less 30,000 to 40,000.”