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Pressure grows on France after Champions League CCTV footage deleted

PARIS (AFP) – Pressure was growing yesterday on French authorities after the surprise revelation CCTV footage from the Stade de France during the Champions League final last month has been deleted, with critics alleging a deliberate cover-up.

The French Football Federation revealed on Thursday to a commission at the French Senate the images had been destroyed automatically having not been subject to a warrant from judicial authorities, in line with French law.

The revelation adds to the controversy after crowd control problems, tear gas and street crime marred the final at Paris’ Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid on May 28.

France’s reputation has taken a battering as laid out in a government report yesterday.

It said the “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country.

Opposition politicians seized on the latest revelations about the CCTV footage to hammer the authorities.

A fan climbs on the fence in front of the Stade de France prior the Champions League final match between Liverpool and Real Madrid, in Saint Denis near Paris. PHOTO: AP

“It’s called covering your tracks,” far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen told BFMTV yesterday.

“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.

Police asked Stade de France for the footage, but only on Thursday evening after it became public that the images had been destroyed, a source close to the case told AFP yesterday.

“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 de France is allowed to store CCTV footage for a maximum of 30 days, but the servers only have the capacity to store them for seven or eight.

On Twitter, French police said on Thursday the images taken by the Stade de France cameras may no longer exist but that the police still had their images.

But Socialist vice-president of the Senate’s law commission David Assouline said yesterday on Franceinfo radio he was “stupefied” by the news, adding it demonstrated an “incredible lack of co-ordination” between the police and politicians.

Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram, questioned by the Senate commission after the FFF delegation, said that he failed “to understand why the videos were destroyed”.

“We’re heading straight towards a state scandal,” the head of the opposition Republicans (LR) faction in the Senate, Bruno Retailleau, told RFI radio, adding the destruction of the CCTV footage was an “intentional act… to make evidence disappear”.

But ruling party MP Aurore Berge said on RMC radio that there were enough elements for the investigation.

“We have plenty of witness statements and images that should nonetheless guide (the investigators),” Berge said.