Champions League final kicks off after 35-minute delay

PARIS, May 28 (Reuters) - Saturday's Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid kicked off following a 35-minute delay after police tried to hold off people trying to force their way into the Stade de France with the trouble having stopped before halftime.

A stadium announcement said the 2100 local time (1900GMT) kick off was being delayed for security reasons, adding later that the start of European club soccer's showpiece had been put back "due to the late arrival of fans".

“People attempted to penetrate the stadium. They forced their way through the first filter. The screening at the Stade de France is watertight,” French police said in a statement.

Reuters TV footage showed riot police chasing people outside the stadium as they ran away and others being escorted away.

Dozens of individuals forced their way into the stadium premises and others outside, including children, were tear-gassed by riot police, a Reuters witness said.

"We have intervened to push back people trying to force their way through," French police said, adding after kick off that the "manoeuvre" was still ongoing.

Some riot police officers stormed into the stadium while others had been charging at people still trying to knock down the stadium gates.

There were no more incidents at halftime but a UEFA official told a couple of fans who wanted to exit the stadium that they would not be allowed to leave because it was "not safe".

European soccer's governing body UEFA issued a statement late on Saturday blaming fake tickets for causing the issue.

"In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles," UEFA said.

"This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.

"As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.

"UEFA is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation."

Reporting by Julien Pretot and Fernando Kallas; Additional reporting by Michel Rose and Clotaire Achi; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon

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