Editor’s note: The following was posted by Jason Barr in the comments section of our “Should Lille be ejected from the Champions League” article. It is reprinted here with Jason’s permission.
I was in France with Man Utd Travel of whom I always do my trips abroad with and had a genuine match ticket presented to me at the airport from a Man Utd Official.
Me and my friends approached the ground with about 30 minutes to spare before kick off, on approaching the 1st gate we were made to wait 10 minutes or so in which a large crowd was building. I thought it was odd as we were then let through to walk down an alleyway alongside the train tracks that 2 people could just about walk down shoulder to shoulder and not thousands of fans, it didn’t even look like part of the infrastructure of the stadium and that we were just being led away from the ground.
On entering the ground we could see that it didn’t matter where you stood, you could not find your allocated seat number as fans were being forced through and made to stand wherever they could find a space. I thought it strange that the stand was virtually full and yet Fans were still streaming in.
I stood about 10 rows up on the right hand section of the stand just to the right of one of the main walkways which was also full of fans, but shouldn’t have been as it was a main exit walkway. I also observed that the main exit gates to the rear of the stand were bolted shut.
The atmosphere was very light and united fans were in good spirits. However about 10-12 minutes into the game from no-where I was knocked off my feet and flung forward. In my panic I thought the stand was collapsing such was the force of the fall. Myself like most united fans in a daze at the time just wanted to get out, many of the fans climbed the railings in a panic to avoid being crushed again. As they tried to scale the security fence I could clearly see fans being hit by the French Police with Batons and a few seconds later I could feel the effects of CS Gas.
I was completely flabbergasted as to why CS Gas was being emitted into the crowd when there were clearly no fans brawling, just angry supporters calling on the police and officials to get the front gates open so that the injured could be led away for urgent assistance and the crush could be eased off.
After the CS Gas had died down I came out of that section and was allowed to enter the higher section to the right of the ground in the corner.
I couldn’t believe what had happened especially with Cs Gas being sprayed. I expect that when the French Police saw the Fans being bundled over in the stands they presumed we were causing a riot or trouble which just wasn’t the case and common sense should have prevailed with all united fans being in a secured enclosure with 15 foot high metal fencing.
I felt appalled at what I had been through, but more so for the way we were treated. United fans record abroad in my opinion is impeccable having been to watch united for the last 2 or so years at nearly every game home and away.
It does put me in doubt as to whether I should go on an away trip to Europe again as I can honestly say I had never been so frightened in all my life.
Having also heard the reports coming out of France today that the game should be replayed and worse still united should be kicked out of Europe is just a disgrace as the French officials got it completely wrong.
Last year I went to Paris and the Stadde Du France was a fantastic stadium with plenty of room. This year lens stadium was picked for its old fashioned looks & feel and so United Players and Fans could be intimidated.
Well it certainly worked for them.
I have a small bit of video footage on my phone in which I tried to capture the French Police actions, but a minute into this the effects of CS Gas can be seen with fans trying to cover their faces and I myself ducked down to cover where I stopped filming, if you wish I can send this from my phone.
Editor’s note: The above piece is completely unedited – I asked Jason for the video and as luck would have it, he’s having some trouble finding the connector cable because he’s just moved homes.
If anyone else has any footage, please let us know and we will publish it, with full credits, here on Soccerlens.