Pressure grows on France after Champions League CCTV footage deleted
The French Football Federation told a Senate committee on Thursday that the photos had been automatically destroyed because they had not been subjected to a warrant from legal authorities.
The pressure on French authorities grew on Friday after it was revealed that CCTV footage from the Stade de France during the Champions League final last month had been removed, prompting accusations of a cover-up.
The French Football Federation told a Senate committee on Thursday that the photos had been automatically destroyed because they had not been subjected to a warrant from legal authorities, as required by French law.
The news adds to the controversy surrounding the May 28 final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris, which was marred by crowd control issues, tear gas, and street criminality.
According to a government assessment released on Friday, France's reputation has taken a beating. It said that the French government's "series of failures" has caused "serious damage" to the country's reputation.
The latest disclosures concerning the CCTV footage have been used by opposition parties to slam the administration. "It's called covering your tracks," far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen told BFMTV on Friday.
"The fact that there is no CCTV footage allows their huge lies to be covered," Le Pen added, pointing to the initial claim from the French government that fake tickets on an 'industrial-scale' caused the pandemonium.
A source close to the investigation stated that the police requested the film from Stade de France on Thursday evening, when it was revealed that the photographs had been erased.
"Yesterday's information that the images would not be kept for one month, but only a few days, led us to ask for them," Bobigny prosecutors, in charge of the investigation into fake tickets, said.
The State of France is authorized to keep CCTV footage for a maximum of 30 days, but the servers can only keep it for seven or eight days.
The photographs taken by the Stade de France cameras may no longer exist, but the police still have them, according to French police on Twitter.
However, David Assouline, the Socialist vice-president of the Senate's law commission, said Friday on Franceinfo radio that the revelation "stupefied" him, adding that it showed a "awful lack of coordination" between the police and legislators.
On Thursday the chief of the Paris police Didier Lallement admitted in front of the Senate commission investigating the May 28 chaos that the security operations for the Champions League final were a "failure". "It was a failure because people were pushed around and attacked. It's a failure because the image of the country was tarnished," he said.
Initially, Lallement and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin blamed the chaos on up to 40,000 Liverpool fans who showed up at the stadium without or with counterfeit tickets. That figure has been widely disputed since by witnesses and media using images from the ground, and Lallement admitted yesterday: "Perhaps I made a mistake with the figure I gave to the minister".
He admitted that there were not 30,000 to 40,000 people "at the stadium's gates," but claimed that tens of thousands were "in the proximity" of police checkpoints at the Stade de France in the capital's north.
Many Liverpool fans were unable to enter the stadium, resulting in a more than half-hour delay in kick-off and jams at the admission gates, when police used tear gas.
The government's initial decision to blame the issues on Liverpool fans sparked tensions between France and the United Kingdom, while also raising concerns about Paris' capacity to host the Rugby World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2024.