UEFA 'responsible' for Paris CL final chaos: report

In this file photo taken on May 28, 2022, Liverpool fans stand outside unable to get in in time leading to the match being delayed prior to the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. PHOTO: AFP

UEFA itself bears "primary responsibility" for failures which "almost led to disaster" at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris between Liverpool and Real Madrid, a report commissioned by the European football body said Monday.

The report also claimed the policing model was influenced by a view of Liverpool based on the deadly 1989 Hillsborough disaster on incorrect assumptions that the city's supporters were a threat to public order.

The report said that the panel "has concluded that UEFA, as event owner, bears primary responsibility for failures which almost led to disaster."

The panel also said it was astonished that the policing model was influenced by a view of Liverpool hooliganism based on Hillsborough.

"The safety, security and service model laid out in the Saint-Denis Convention was ignored in favour of a securitised approach," the report said.

Real Madrid's 1-0 win at the Stade de France on May 28 was overshadowed by events surrounding European football's showpiece event.

Kick-off was delayed by 37 minutes as fans struggled to access the stadium after being funnelled into overcrowded bottlenecks on approach.

Police then fired tear gas towards thousands of supporters locked behind metal fences on the perimeter to the stadium.

UEFA then tried to pin the blame on Liverpool fans arriving late despite thousands having been held for hours outside the stadium before kick-off.

The French authorities then claimed an "industrial scale fraud" of fake tickets was the problem.

A French Senate enquiry in July found that poorly-executed security arrangements were the cause of the mayhem.

Images of the final tarnished France's reputation for holding major sports events ahead of the Rugby World Cup this year and the 2024 Olympic Games, both of which will host events at the Stade de France.

 Blame game 

UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis made an apology for the lapses that led to a breakdown in the organisation of the crowd and thanked Dr Brandao Rodrigues and the panel who created the report for their work.

"On behalf of UEFA, I would like to apologise most sincerely once again to all those who were affected by the events that unfolded on what should have been a celebration at the pinnacle of the club season," Theodoridis said.

"In particular, I would like to apologise to the supporters of Liverpool FC.... for the messages released prior to and during the game which had the effect of unjustly blaming them for the situation leading to the delayed kick-off."

The independent review was commissioned May 30, 2022, and published Monday at a cost of almost 500,000 euros to date.

"UEFA is committed to learning from the events," the apology said, promising to work more closely with stakeholders to assure they can enjoy the game in a safe, secure and welcoming environment.

Liverpool  said earlier in the evening they had been "hugely disappointed" the review was leaked early.

"It's been over eight months of work by the independent panel and it is only right and proper to publish the contents of the report to our supporters appropriately," a Liverpool statement said.
 

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