Long queues of fans were seen outside the stadium gates within minutes of kick-off, and empty seats as the game got under way; World Rugby statement did not address similar frustrations felt by fans in Bordeaux for Ireland vs Romania
Last Updated: 10/09/23 1:52pm
World Rugby and France 2023 promised to take action after thousands of fans appeared to be stuck outside the stadium ahead of England’s World Cup victory over Argentina in Marseille at the Stade Velodrome.
Long queues of fans were seen outside the stadium gates within minutes of kick-off, and empty seats as the game got under way.
Some fans will have missed Tom Curry’s third-minute red card, which sparked a defiant all-action win for England with 27 points from the boot of George Ford.
“While fans were able to take their seats, fan experience is paramount, and we are working with all stakeholders to establish the facts and implement measures to prevent such delays for the remaining Rugby World Cup 2023 matches at the venue,” World Rugby said.
On Sunday, Rugby World Cup France 2023 released a statement outlining steps they are taking to improve access to the Stade Velodrome.
It said: “While all 63,118 ticket holders were able to take their seats and there were no reported incidents, fan experience is paramount to everyone involved in the staging of the tournament and we would like to reassure fans visiting Marseille that the following actions are being taken in partnership with all stakeholders:
“France 2023 are deploying more service volunteers to welcome fans to the Stade de Marseille and direct ticket holders to the appropriate entry points. There will be an increase of announcements on public transport in French and English to ensure that fans are directed to the right metro stop. Direct communications being deployed to ticket purchasers reiterating key information including transport, entry points and gate opening times.”
The statements did not address similar frustrations felt by fans in Bordeaux, with hundreds of Ireland supporters still battling to get into the stadium as their game against Romania kicked off on Saturday afternoon in 35 degree heat.
Fans posting on social media blamed the city’s tram system, which was overloaded hours before kick-off and could not cope with the volumes of supporters trying to reach the stadium.
There were packed-full trams in the build-up to the game and long queues of fans outside the stadium as well as swathes of empty seats within.
The organisational woes will be an embarrassment for French authorities as they prepare to host the summer Olympics next July in Paris.
The scenes also had echoes of the 2022 Champions League final in Paris, which was delayed by 36 minutes with thousands of Liverpool fans trapped outside.
Organisers UEFA originally blamed the fans before apologising after an independent report into the affair found European football’s governing body was primarily responsible for the chaos.