PARIS, May 30 — French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin today highlighted English clubs’ history of crowd problems and took a dig at Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp as he sought to explain the chaos at this weekend’s Champions League final in Paris.

Darmanin dismissed criticism of the French police, saying their actions had saved lives, and said any doubts about France’s ability to organise the Rugby World Cup next year and the Olympics in 2024 were unfounded.

“The comparison with the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics seems to be rather disproportionate for me, given that obviously it is only with football, and singularly only with football and with certain English clubs, that there are these events,” he told a press conference.

He claimed there had been “the same problems” during the Liverpool-Tottenham Champions League final in Madrid in 2019, and noted that Klopp had encouraged Liverpool supporters to travel to the French capital for Sunday’s game.

“I remind you that the Liverpool coach several days ago — and it’s public — called on supporters to come to France even without a ticket,” Darmanin said.

This had contributed to the disorder on Saturday night, Darmanin suggested, when 30,000 to 40,000 supporters travelled to the Stade de France stadium north of Paris either without a ticket or with fake ones.

Darmanin said there had been “massive, industrial-scale” counterfeiting that had been encouraged by Liverpool’s request for paper tickets for their supporters, instead of electronic ones.

The paper tickets “had without doubt contributed to the massive and industrial fraud,” with the counterfeited tickets being “absolutely identical and not identifiable” as fakes unless stadium staff checked them with special detector pens.

The French minister acknowledged that “not everything had been perfect,” saying he had seen several videos in which individual officers were shown making use of teargas in an inappropriate fashion.

But he added: “I find it rather low and inappropriate to criticise not only the police but also individually the police prefect,” he said, referring to Paris police chief Didier Lallement who is in charge of security in the capital. In early May, Klopp encouraged Liverpool fans to travel to the French capital despite club guidance being that ticketless supporters should not make the journey.

“I think Paris is big enough to go there without a ticket and have a good time. Behave yourself but be in the best possible mood,” he said. — AFP