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.
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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 securitized 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 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.