CCTV footage of the night Champions League final has already been deleted, admitted French football officials.
Last month’s final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was marred by chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France that resulted in the game being delayed by more than half an hour with police using tear gas and pepper spray to control fans.
French authorities initially blamed the congestion on Liverpool fans who arrived late at the stadium.
But those claims were immediately rejected by several journalists who watched the match, who reported that thousands of fans were left waiting outside the stadium for several hours before the game started due to mismanagement by French authorities.
However, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin blamed Liverpool fans – claiming that thousands attended the game with counterfeit tickets or none at all, with Darmanin describing it as ” massive, industrial-scale ticket fraud”.
However, CCTV footage that could have supported or undermined these claims was lost amid reports in France that authorities failed to obtain them within the legal timeframe.
“The images are available for seven days, then they are automatically destroyed,” Erwan Le Prevost, director of institutional relations at the French Football Federation, told a parliamentary hearing on Thursday.
“We should have a requisition to provide them to different populations [organisations]. The images are extremely violent.”
Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement admitted at the hearing that he made a mistake saying that 40,000 Liverpool fans tried to gain access to the match with fake tickets.
“Perhaps I made a mistake with the value I gave the minister,” Lallement said.
“I never claimed it was absolutely accurate.”
Asked further, he added: “The number has no scientific virtue, but came from feedback from police and public transport officials.”
Lallement admitted that the police operation around the final was a “failure” and apologized for the use of tear gas against fans, while insisting that “there was no other way” to clear the congestion at the stadium gates.
“We needed to get people to come back,” added Lallement.
There were also violent scenes after the match, when local gangs assaulted and robbed fans on their way to buses and trains.
UEFA apologized to supporters and launched its own investigation into the final, which ended in a 1-0 victory for Real Madrid.