UEFA ‘sorry’ over Paris soccer show fiasco


UEFA apologizes to fans Image: Real Madrid

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has issued an apology to the Premier League club Liverpool F.C. (UK) and the Spanish professional football club Real Madrid CF (Spain) supporters as well as all other spectators caught up in the “frightening and distressing events” at the May 28th Champions League Final in Paris (France).

The ‘Independent’ stated that the UEFA also outlined further details about their comprehensive and independent review to examine the access issues that led to fans being crushed and teargassed outside the Stade de France on May 28th.

The UEFA spectacle on May 28th witnessed chaotic scenes outside the above stadium, with supporters breaking through security cordons, jumping over large metal gates and police firing tear gas, thus causing a 35-minute delay in the start of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

The 2022 UEFA Champions League Final was the final match of the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League, the 67th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organized by UEFA, and the 30th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. It was played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, on May 28th, 2022, between the Premier League club Liverpool F.C. and the Spanish professional football club Real Madrid CF (Spain). Real Madrid won the match 1-0 via a 59th-minute goal from Vinícius Júnior for a record-extending 14th title, and their fifth in nine years.

This was the first final to be played in front of a full attendance since the 2019 final, as the previous two finals were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stade de France is the national stadium of France, located just North of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis. Its seating capacity of 80,698 makes it the seventh-largest stadium in Europe. The stadium is used by the France national football team and the France rugby union team for international competitions.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football.

The ‘Independent’ further stated that UEFA’s apology comes eight days after they blamed the delayed kick-off at the Stade de France on the “late arrival” of Liverpool fans.

The European football’s governing body also claimed that the French Police had used teargas to disperse supporters who had blocked the turnstiles at the stadium due to “thousands” of fake tickets.

Those claims were not addressed, however, and many Liverpool fans said UEFA’s apology had fallen short.

The Liverpool legend Kenny Dalgish said on Twitter“, “This is a start, but there is still a long way to go. This apology doesn’t cover the false message about the late kick off, events at the fan park, or what happened in the aftermath.”

The UEFA’s statement read, “The UEFA wishes to sincerely apologize to all spectators who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build-up to the Champions League Final at the Stade de France on May 28th, 2022 in Paris, on a night, which should have been a celebration of European club football. No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again.”

The French authorities have continued to shift the blame on a “mass gathering” of supporters with “fake tickets”, but the UEFA said their review would “seek to establish a full picture and timeline of what occurred during the day”.

The UEFA also said an online questionnaire would be used to gather testimonies.

The UEFA’s statement continued, “The review will engage with the UEFA and all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, fan groups including Football Supporters Europe as well as those of the two finalist clubs, the finalist clubs themselves, the general spectators, the French Football Federation, the police and other public national and local authorities, and the stadium operator. The findings of the review, conclusions and recommendations will be set out in detail in the report and will be those of Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues (Portuguese politician) and the experts who will support him. The review will start immediately and should be concluded within the shortest possible timeframe needed to produce a comprehensive review of the events.”

The UEFA’s statement comes after Liverpool wrote to European football’s governing body asking for clarity over how the planned report would be compiled.

The Premier League club, having swiftly called for a full investigation into the fiasco after the game, have given that news only a cautious welcome, feeling that the European governing body needs to give more detail.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Liverpool F.C, Billy Hogan, told the club’s website, “We at Liverpool have been calling for an investigation into what happened in Paris on May 28th, not a report. I think those are two very different things. We’ve written to the UEFA again and we’ve raised specific questions – 13 specific questions – that we’d like them to clarify around the details of this investigation.”

Real Madrid, who won the Paris final 1-0, also released a statement recently demanding answers to the treatment of their fans at the final.

Much of the focus has been on the Liverpool supporters but the Spanish club said, “As clearly seen in the images, many fans were violently assaulted, harassed, robbed, and mugged. Some incidents even took place while fans were driving in cars or on buses, fearing for their safety. Some of them even spent the night in hospital after their injuries. We ask for answers and explanations that determine who was responsible for leaving the fans helpless and defenseless, supporters whose general behavior was at all times exemplary.”

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