Robbie Fowler recalls the horrifying experience in the Champions League final when his son was caught up in the chaos

I’m 47 years old and I’ve been going to the games for 40 years… and the scenes I witnessed in Paris were by far the worst I’ve ever witnessed.

I can’t even describe what so many thousands upon thousands of innocent, ordinary, decent Liverpool fans have been through and what I’ve been through as a parent.

My son was involved and I had to give up my television duties to go back out and try to find him. Any parent will tell you how it feels when you are so desperate to do something and so helpless to change the horrific, disgusting behavior of the police.

I’m saying I can’t describe it, but it was like in those movies where everything totally falls apart. It was American Nightmare, it was The Purge, it was Walking Dead. It was that bad.

And I never, ever want to see anything like that again.

I haven’t been to Hillsborough but I reckon it was by far the worst since. I stood there and saw children as young as five being gassed, women collapsing as they were gassed after getting through turnstiles with a valid ticket that worked.

It was embarrassing for the people of France how obnoxious their police force was. And even more embarrassing were the outright lies of their politicians, which further insulted the injuries inflicted on them by their police.

I watched some of the French Senate Committee hearings with their Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, who was responsible for this utter horror show. And he stands there openly and lies. Lying smugly, his face showing that he knew he was lying… and didn’t care.

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Aside via Getty Images)

I thought wow wow wow. People laugh at your lies and you still think it’s perfectly acceptable to continue with such utter bullshit. That shows you how corrupt it all was.

People know there is so much corruption in politics, we’ve seen it enough in this country in recent years, but this guy. An absolute criminal. The corruption of his actions deserves to see him in prison.

At one point he actually had the gall – and honestly, I almost got on a plane straight to Paris – to commend the police and say that only their calm action prevented a serious incident.

Well let me tell you mate it was only the calm and clear leveled thinking of Liverpool fans that stopped the French police from causing a real tragedy.

Because lives could have been lost so easily.

Stop and think about it for a second. The police action came so close to killing people. Gerald Darmanin…you should go to jail for that alone. And everyone out there in the French media wants to quote me on that, so please feel free.

I will tell you my story – not because I am more important or different, but quite the opposite. Because my story was typical of the carnage I saw around me and to understand what happened to me you have to understand what happened to half the fans in that stadium.

On a break from my television duties, I called my boy like fathers do to ask if he was okay, if the atmosphere was good, and so on. When it was through, there was a sound of chaos and panic.

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Picture:

Andrew Teebay (Liverpool Echo)

He was caught in the middle of a group who had suffered the horror of being crushed in this obscene cauldron set up by the French police, as had many, many thousands. People told me they thought they weren’t going to get out of there.

They were stuck there for hours, and when they finally got through, their gates were closed. Of course they were. That’s what the police wanted – chaos and carnage.

He was in tears as he described what was going on and I did what any parent would do, gave up my television duties and went out to try to get him out of there. I was on one side of the fence, he was on the other, but in a crowd with valid tickets who were locked out and tear-gassed.

It’s the worst feeling in the world to be so helpless when your children are in danger.

The scenes I witnessed were terrifying. People were pushed against the fence and said, ‘Help us Robbie’ and I could help in any other way besides giving water.

Beside me was Andy Cooke, the former Merseyside Police Commissioner, and we saw both grown men sobbing. He’s now an inspector of police and I can only imagine how he would rate the French police.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I was able to find him and pull him out of the crowd. He finally got into the stadium five minutes before half-time.

The next morning he said to me – and it broke my heart – “Dad, I can’t get the noise out of my head”. And so many parents will have those words spoken to them over the next few months because it was so traumatic.

It didn’t end there either. Liverpool fans were tear-gassed out of the stadium… and all they wanted was to get out of this hellhole. They and Real Madrid fans were also targeted by local gangs, with the police just looking on and doing nothing.

Jason McAteer’s wife was one of thousands who were attacked and just to add another emotional note my phone rang before I left and it was my son who said “Dad please please be careful when you come out because it’s horrible out here.” .

My son worried after what he went through that his father would go through it.

Nobody should have gone through that. These are people who have spent thousands of pounds on tickets, travel and accommodation for the best night of their lives and have been ripped off at every turn by profiteers. And it was a nightmare.

France should not be allowed to host another final. Point. They are also not fit to host the Olympics and any request MUST relate to them. No police force or organization that has put human life in serious danger with their methods can be trusted to host an event again.

People also need compensation, which will not make up for it, but the authorities must be hit where they understand it most. They don’t care about people, but they clearly care about money, and if it’s costing them the way it should, then they can easily prevent it from happening again.

And there’s one last thing I want to say. That could have happened to any English club because it was clearly premeditated by the French police.

It wasn’t a Liverpool thing, it’s not a tribal thing. We are all football fans and when such a terrible injustice happens we need to understand it for what it is and all work together to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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