It was almost another football tragedy when an independent panel found that UEFA was to blame for the horrific scenes at the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris.
UEFA bears “primary responsibility” for the blunders at the Champions League final in Paris, which saw teargassing at Liverpool fans for no reason and “almost resulted in disaster”, an independent panel has found.
The review, commissioned by UEFA and seen by The Times ahead of its official release, says French police and the French Football Federation (FFF) also bear “responsibility” for the errors. There is also “no plan B” to meet the challenges that arise.
Tens of thousands of Liverpool fans faced difficulty accessing the Stade de France for the final against Real Madrid on May 28 last year, caused by errors in the ticketing process, planning, bottlenecks and missing signs, with French riot police responding with tear gas, often indiscriminately.
Kick-off was delayed by 37 minutes, but hordes of fans were still outside the stadium when the game started.
“The dangerous conditions in the concourse in front of the turnstiles were exacerbated by police using tear gas against disorderly groups of local residents and pepper spray on supporters attempting to gain entry with valid tickets,” reads the report’s summary . “It is remarkable that nobody lost their life.”
The panel’s conclusions read: “UEFA, as organiser, bears the primary responsibility for mistakes that almost led to disaster. While it was reasonable to delegate various security matters to others – mainly FFF – and to refer to the police’s constitutional position in relation to policing duties, it did not follow that this absolved UEFA of its responsibilities.
“UEFA was central to the organization of the event and should have monitored, overseen and supported security measures to ensure they are fit for purpose and to identify and resolve issues in real time before they occur.”
The report adds that by delegating security and policing duties, UEFA “was trying to shield itself from anything that was going wrong. In doing so, it largely removed its own S&S [safety and security] Unit has a key role in monitoring, monitoring and aligning collaborative efforts, as well as troubleshooting and escalating issues as they arise and are identified.”
It was also “completely unacceptable” that UEFA was unaware that the safety-based approach to monitoring the event had been taken because of a “deplorably inaccurate view of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster – that it was caused by hooliganism”.
Liverpool were unhappy that the report from the panel led by Portuguese politician Tiago Brandao Rodrigues was leaked before the club received it.
A Liverpool spokesman said: “It is very disappointing that a report of such importance, of such importance to the lives and future safety of football fans, should be leaked and released in this way.
“We will await a copy of the report and digest it before commenting further.”
The report also criticizes the management of UEFA Events SA – the division that organizes tournaments and finals – for marginalizing Uefa’s S&S unit by using subcontractors and then trying to evade responsibility.
It also concluded that there had been a “failure by Uefa’s top management to address these issues over a number of years, although they were clearly aware of them”.
Martin Kallen, the long-time managing director of UEFA Events SA, is particularly criticized. The report concludes: “Martin Kallen’s account of what happened was seriously flawed and contained claims that were objectively untrue.
“Mr Kallen specifically claimed that UEFA had conducted previous events at the Stade de France without incident, referring to the 2006 Champions League final, which he attended. In fact, UEFA reported after the game that there had been serious problems, including failures with the police and access issues. Mr. Kallen claimed to know nothing about congestion problems on the [railway station] came to the stadium for the 2016 French Cup final despite drawing criticism ahead of Euro 2016 games at the Stade de France.”
The review also criticizes police for “looking on” and not defending fans when they’ve faced attacks from local youths.
French authorities initially blamed a large number of ticketless fans or supporters with counterfeit tickets, but later conceded that this was not the cause.
The report adds: “The panel comes to the conclusion [the] Claims were falsely hyped and presented as facts to deflect responsibility for planning and operational errors by those involved. This is reprehensible and has involved UEFA, UEFA Events SA, FFF, the Prefecture de Police, government officials and French ministers.”
The report adds that a message stating the late kick-off was caused by fans arriving late should not have been shown. “This is a matter of great sensitivity to Liverpool supporters because for more than two decades ‘late supporters’ have been falsely accused of causing the Hillsborough disaster,” the report said.
Commenting on the report, UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis said: “On behalf of UEFA I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all those affected by what should have been a celebration at the height of the club’s season.
“In particular, I would like to apologize [Liverpool] Supporters for… the messages that led to them being unfairly blamed for the situation.”
After the final, France’s sport minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, wrote to Liverpool to apologize, acknowledging that events could have brought back “painful memories” of the Hillsborough disaster.
– The times
Originally released as UEFA ‘primarily to blame’ for Champions League final chaos that ‘nearly led to disaster’
https://www.codesports.com.au/football/uefa-primarily-to-blame-for-champions-league-final-chaos-that-almost-led-to-disaster/news-story/2fef871a735288b415aec826f4e5afce?nk=d66292e9ba70f5fbd3549bb10285936e-1676334548 UEFA is to blame for the Champions League chaos between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris