UEFA has apologized to supporters for the distressing events that marred the build-up to the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris.
European football’s governing body announced on Tuesday that it had launched an independent review into the access issues that led to fans being crushed and tear-gassed outside the Stade de France in Paris before Real Madrid’s 1-0 win against Liverpool.
The match was delayed by more than 30 minutes after officers forcefully held back people trying to enter the Stade de France while riot police also sprayed tear gas on fans, including women and children.
UEFA has now released a further statement apologizing for the distress caused to supporters, reading: “UEFA wishes to sincerely apologize to all spectators who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France on May 28, 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.
“To that end, immediately after the events, UEFA commissioned an Independent Review to identify shortcomings and responsibilities of all entities involved in the organization of the final, and has today published the Terms of Reference for this review.
“The Independent Review, which will be led by Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues from Portugal, aims at understanding what happened in the build-up to the final, and determining what lessons should be learned to ensure there is no repeat of the actions and events of that day. “
Real Madrid: Why were our fans left helpless and defenseless?
Real Madrid, meanwhile, have called on authorities to explain why supporters were left “helpless and defenseless” at the Champions League final in Paris’ Stade de France.
Real – who won the Champions League for a record 14th time – say they also want to know why the stadium was chosen as the venue for the match, which was moved from St Petersburg in February after the invasion of Ukraine.
The Spanish side said their supporters were “victims” of the “unfortunate events” that took place at the Stade de France, adding that the scenes had caused “deep outrage around the world”.
Real’s statement said “many of the fans were violently assaulted, harassed and robbed” and “some of them even had to spend the night in hospital”.
Their complaints echo those of Liverpoolwith Billy Hogan, the Premier League club’s chief executive, saying this week he has been “horrified” by accounts from fans after receiving more than 6,000 pieces of feedback on issues surrounding last week’s game.
UEFA initially blamed the delayed kick-off on Liverpool fans arriving late to the stadium, while Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, blamed “fraud at an industrial level” for the chaos at the Champions League final, saying 70 per cent of tickets used to attempt entry into the Stade de France were fake.
Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French sports minister, added that up to 40,000 people either had fake tickets or no ticket at all and that “everyone wants to ensure this will never happen again”. She has commissioned a report on the troubles.
Hogan said his response to the sports minister’s claims was “disbelief”, and added that he had spoken to his counterpart at Real Madrid, “who made it clear that their fans also had issues”.
Hogan added: “They had major concerns with the matchday operation, including the policing operation around the match. I know they’re equally concerned about making sure this, again, is an independent and open investigation.”
The Liverpool chief executive added that the club wrote to UEFA again on Thursday with 13 questions that they want answering around details of the investigation into events at the final.
‘UEFA statement is too little too late for fans’
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol, who was at the final:
UEFA have taken almost a week to finally apologize and for many it is too little too late.
They still have not apologized for their initial 22-word statement which mistakenly blamed Liverpool fans for the kick-off being delayed.
The message which was on screens inside the stadium said: “Due to the late arrival of fans at the stadium, the match has been delayed. Further information will follow in 15 minutes”.
It is clear that the delays were not the fault of Liverpool fans but French policing.
And UEFA have not made it clear whether they will look into all the problems that occurred after the game – attacks on fans leaving, muggings and more tear gas. Why are they not investigating that?
Also how strange that this new UEFA statement came just hours after Real Madrid issued their own statement demanding answers about the treatment of their fans. Coincidence?
We should also be careful about calling the UEFA review “independent” – which is what UEFA want us to believe.
But the review is being chaired by Portuguese politician Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues. He has worked in the past with the former chief executive of the Portuguese Football Federation Tiago Craveiro. Craveiro is now an advisor to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
Liverpool have written to UEFA with 13 questions about the review, one of the questions is about the suitability of Dr Rodrigues. So clearly, there is a concern about how “independent” this review will actually be?