Lille security chief: We did not over-react

February 22, 2007

The head of security at Lens has rejected suggestions his colleagues were heavy-handed in their dealings with Manchester United fans during the Champions League clash against Lille at the Stade Felix-Bollaert.

Tear gas was used by police in a stand housing United supporters, who appeared to be in danger of being crushed against a 10-foot-high safety barrier, midway through the first half of Tuesday night's last-16 first leg.

At least two fans, including one child, were lifted over the barrier when concern reached its height.

UEFA have launched an investigation into the incidents, but Damien Vanoise, the chief of security at the Felix-Bollaert, was quick to defend his colleagues.

'I think we responded to what happened,' he told French radio station RTL. 'We didn't intervene by chance.

'There was not even a problem of communication. From the moment we saw the supporters who were trying to pull on the railings, what is the interpretation we can make from that - us, as security guards? For me, it is violent behaviour.'

A supply of counterfeit tickets has been blamed for the situation developing and there have been suggestions there were too many people crammed in that end of the ground.

But Vanoise added: 'I can tell you that nobody was crushed in the wire fencing.

'There weren't too many people in that stand. The stand was not full.'

UEFA's control and disciplinary body will discuss the safety and security issues on March 22, more than two weeks after the second leg of the last-16 tie.