UEFA Champions League final statement blames “late” fans | UEFA

The UEFA statement apparently blamed Liverpool fans for causing the start of the match to be delayed Champions League The Guardian has learned that the final in Paris was prepared well in advance of match day. And the statement, which was shown on the big screen in the Stade de France, announced that the postponement of the start of the final match scheduled for nine in the evening between Liverpool and Real Madrid was caused by the “delayed arrival of the fans.”

The anger of the statement Liverpool Fans, thousands of them still stuck in mayhem outside the stadium despite arriving three hours or so before 9pm. Nearly 15,000 Liverpool fans were held in a dangerous and suffocating queue at a perimeter ticket checkpoint, then denied access to the stadium at turnstiles shut by the hosts and police.

As shown in Achieving the visual guardianParis police had directed Liverpool fans to a ticket checkpoint using an alternate route that had been a known hazard since 2016, which involved transporting thousands of people via a narrow subway under the A1 motorway. Crush hazards developed in line there and at revolving doors that were closed for long periods. Many Liverpool fans, who paid up to £600 to UEFA for tickets, also suffered brutal riots, including pepper spray and tear gas, and attacks by local French men.

The statement blaming the late arrival of fans was identified in the planning stages of the match, as the statement could potentially be used in the event the kick-off is postponed, The Guardian understands. at the end of the match UEFA He issued a second statement, blaming “thousands of fans” at the end of the Liverpool match with “fake tickets” for delaying kick-off.

For many Liverpool fans, the stakes of the match, and statements by UEFA blaming them, were shocking echoes of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. 97 of his supporters were unlawfully killed In a crush due to the gross negligence of the South Yorkshire Police, but Force made a false state To blame the late supporters of no tickets for causing the disaster.

Ian Byrne, Member of Parliament and Liverpool fan who was at the match said: “I find it shocking and truly appalling to hear that UEFA – UEFA including the FA – has issued a prepared statement blaming the fans, as a standard explanation for the delay Kick-off. Doing this with the Liverpool fans after all we’ve been through is horrific. We need full answers on how to make all these decisions.”

Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool City, has called for UEFA’s “independent review” of the impending disaster at the Stade de France to include a full investigation into the decision to postpone kick-off by just 15 minutes. He said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin appeared to have made the decision in the stadium’s VIP area, after talks with UEFA officials and a squad from each club.

A scene at the Stade de France as police use tear gas against Liverpool fans.
A scene at the Stade de France as police use tear gas against Liverpool fans. Photography: Adam Davey/PA

Rotheram was also in the VIP area witnessing discussions of the crisis, after his mobile phone and wallet were stolen outside the subway, then a French police officer escorted him to a safe place.

Rothram has confronted Ceferin about risks abroad, but said the president responded lightly that UEFA had “killed itself” to start the final stage, having transferred him from St Petersburg in February. Rotheram says he responded with concern that fans outside could be killed and that Ceferin replied: “This conversation is over.”

Rotheram then wrote to Ceferin on June 6 accusing him of being “defensive,” saying he was “frustrated” that Ceferin had cut off the conversation. His letter also criticized the initial decision to postpone kick-off by just 15 minutes: “The partial delays to the kick-off time only show an underestimation of the seriousness of the situation I and others (including representatives of Liverpool FC and the Football Association) said.

“It was never my intention to be disrespectful,” Ceferin responded on June 10, while acknowledging that “I may sound rude.” He explained that he was “certainly” aware of the severity of the crisis: “I felt I had to cut short our discussion because at that time we had bigger problems to solve: making sure there were no injuries, making sure fans with tickets got into the stadium, and finally, start the match.” “.

Ceferin’s letter did not address Rothram’s criticism of the kick-off delay, but did refer to the UEFA review, saying her job was to fully understand what happened in Paris, and to make sure “it never happens again”.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is pictured in Paris the day before the Champions League final.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is pictured in Paris the day before the Champions League final. Photo: Frank Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Rotheram told the Guardian: “As Liverpool supporters know that at the cost to us, having suffered the Hillsborough disaster where kick-off was not delayed, the decision is vital to the safety of the people, as it can alleviate a serious crisis. In the end, it had to be made. The kick-off in Paris was postponed for 36 minutes. So the questions must be answered about how and why the 15 minutes were initially chosen.”

And in the second statement blaming Liverpool fans with fake tickets, Rotheram said he believed UEFA wanted to blame the fans.

“It was right out of the rules of the game; they wouldn’t take responsibility. I had this feeling in the VIP area, that they didn’t want to take responsibility as an organization.”

The UEFA report, which was announced two days after the final, is due to release a report by the end of November. On 3 June, the organization issued a “sincere apology” to viewers “who had to experience or witness frightening and disturbing events in preparation for the UEFA Champions League Final…which should have been a celebration of European football.” However, UEFA has not acknowledged any failures per se, nor has it retracted statements blaming Liverpool supporters.

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    The Guardian sent UEFA a detailed series of questions, about the statements, and the decision to postpone the kick-off for 15 minutes, but they refused to answer. A spokesperson reiterated his apology, saying: “UEFA will not respond to your inquiries until the end of an independent investigation into the events in preparation for the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France on 28 May 2022 in Paris.”

    The review committee is expected to meet with representatives of the fans, including Liverpool fan confidence, Spirit of Shankly, on Saturday.

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