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French senators seek action over UEFA Champions League final chaos

French senators demanded on Thursday that the state recognize responsibility and identify guilty parties behind the chaos outside the national stadium that marred the Champions League final last month.

They also questioned why government officials allowed surveillance video of the scene, in which police pepper-sprayed fans and families, to be deleted instead of ordering it handed over to investigators.

The fiasco drew worldwide attention to heavy-handed French policing and raised questions about France’s ability to responsibly manage security at major world events.

“The general impression of the unfolding of the Champions League’s final is a lack of preparation, upstream lack of preparedness, lack of responsiveness during the events and questionable management after the events,” Senator Laurent Lafon, leading a commission seeking explanations for what happened, said Thursday.

“The gravity of the events … requires a response from the state,” he said.

He did name any specific culprits but noted that all those responsible for managing the situation “at some point or another failed” and that all of them worked for the government.

The deletion of the surveillance video leads to “an impression that there is no one responsible, and since there is no one responsible, there is no one who is guilty,” said Lafon.

He and another member of the commission spoke at the Stade de France to sum up the commission’s work so far. They did not directly address the police violence.

A senior government official tasked with issuing a report on what happened said security measures should have been adapted as crowds converged. Questioned Thursday by the senators, Michel Cadot called for exploring new ways of crowd control at stadiums such as mounted police and artificial intelligence systems to monitor and predict crowd movements, notably ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Questioned earlier by the Senate commission, the Paris police chief admitted that the evening was a “failure”.

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