Liverpool Real Madrid Champions League final 2021-22 GFXGetty/GOAL

'As a Parisian Liverpool fan, it breaks my heart' - Inside the horror of the Champions League final

For Camelia Abdennbi-Bohills, Saturday was supposed to be one of the proudest days of her life.

As a French Liverpool supporter, born and raised in Paris, the idea of her club playing a Champions League final in her home city was one she had dreamed of for yours.

Four days on, though, she and her fellow Reds are still coming to terms with just how badly things went wrong at the Stade de France.

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The fallout continues.

UEFA has already commissioned an independent investigation into events, more than 5000 Liverpool fans have submitted online forms detailing their experiences, while Reds chairman Tom Werner has written to Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, demanding an apology for what he described as “irresponsible, unprofessional and wholly disrespectful” comments made about supporters in the aftermath of Saturday’s game.

Both Darmanin and Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French sports minister, stated on Monday that the chaos outside the Stade de France, in which fans were crushed in queues outside entrances and then attacked with tear gas and pepper spray by police, had been the result of a large-scale ticket fraud. 

Darmanin even suggested that as many as 40,000 supporters had arrived with “fake tickets or no tickets”, a claim that was swiftly debunked by Stade de France officials, who confirmed to AFP that less than 3,000 fake tickets had been scanned ahead of the game.

Both Darmanin and Oudea-Castera were due to appear before the French senate on Wednesday afternoon, where they would be questioned on events before, during and after the final – and, in particular, the breakdown in policing and stewarding outside the stadium.

For Abdennbi-Bohills, the feeling is one of sadness, as well as anger.

She is a member of the French branch of the Official Liverpool Supporters Club, and was caught up in the chaos outside the Stade de France.

She had a panic attack while queuing for more than two hours to enter the stadium, and says only the kindness and support of fellow Liverpool fans got her through the experience.

“I’ve never had a panic attack before in my life,” she tells GOAL. “But I know from experience what policing of football supporters is like in France. They are aggressive, and things can often escalate when they don’t need to.

“I’m a mum, I have a three-year-old, and the longer it went on outside the ground, the more tense and scared I became.

“The people around us were incredible. They were so kind. There was a young woman and her mum and she was amazing, they kept asking if I was OK. They calmed me down and looked after me.

“Honestly, had the crowd reacted in a different manner, I dread to think what could have happened.”

Abdennbi-Bohills’ mother lives around a kilometre away from the Stade de France, while she herself went to school at Cours de Vincennes, where Liverpool’s fanpark was based last Saturday. 

She has attended several fixtures at Stade de France in the past, including Six Nations rugby matches and Euro 2016 games.

Those, she says, were a world removed from last Saturday, when it came to policing, stewarding and the general treatment of spectators. 

“There is definitely an attitude of aggression towards English fans, I can say that for sure,” she says. “Even if you take rugby, if it is Irish or Scottish or Welsh fans, it’s different. 

“I attended Ireland against Sweden at Euro 2016, and it was a different attitude. Friendlier, calmer.

“But it’s a bigger problem than [just] the attitude towards English fans, in my opinion.

"It’s a matter of how they police games generally, and anyone who attends games in France will say that I’m sure. It has gotten worse in the last four or five years too.

“Fans are viewed as thugs who are going to create problems. And if you go with that attitude, then it is more likely that problems will arise.

“I heard someone say on French TV that it was as if they were policing English fans from 40 years ago, and that is how it was.

"I consider myself one of the lucky ones, but a lot of fans are traumatised by what they experienced and, as a Parisien, that breaks my heart.”

She adds: “It hurts, because it was a big celebration for us. On Friday, we hosted a party with The Anfield Wrap and the LFC Red Indians, and it was fantastic. 

“The fanpark on Saturday was incredible. It was amazing to see Liverpool fans all over my home town.

"Then, to see and hear that they then had such an awful experience, that Hillsborough survivors have had memories triggered and all these things, it is devastating. 

“Liverpool is my club, France is my country, and it hurts me to think that my country wasn’t able to host them and to make them feel safe.

"To hear people saying they never want to come to Paris again, it’s just not right.”

Abdennbi-Bohills, at least, says she has been heartened to see widespread condemnation of the authorities, and of UEFA, in the French media, where the likes of Darmanin and Oudea-Castera have been heavily criticised and where first-hand accounts from supporters have rightly been given prominence.

“The media have been condemning,” she says. “To add some context, there are parliamentary elections coming up, so people are always going to be keen to go against the government and push their own agenda, but generally there has been a lot of support and sympathy for supporters.

“With that [Darmanin/Oudea-Castera] press conference, I think anyone could see ‘This isn’t right.' Once you look into the details, it’s obvious. 

“Some people will believe them, which is sad, but from the people I know, the reaction was disgust. They wanted to change the narrative. 

“It’s from the Hillsborough playbook of how to spread the lie. We’ve seen it before, and it’s disgusting.

“Our chairman, Rodo, has been on a few important TV shows talking about what happened. I myself was on TV5 and Monde, just to give my account of things. 

“It’s important to make sure fans have a voice in the French media. The message is coming stronger towards the Liverpool fans, that it was bad organisation and policing, not fake tickets and fans arriving late.”

She adds: “I just hope that one day the people will come back to Paris and see us. They will always be welcome.

“It’s just heartbreaking to know that so many good people had their experience in my city ruined. It’s not right, and I just wish the French government would apologise and accept responsibility. 

“But sadly they don’t, and they won’t, because politics will come into play.”