Sky News has learned that UEFA is conducting a review into the treatment of Liverpool fans in the Champions League final 2022. The findings will include failings by European football’s governing body, and the failure to assess the risk of the venue.
According to an independent report, French police will be criticized for using tear gas and pepper spray in indiscriminate fire on concourses close to turnstiles used by Liverpool fans. This resulted in security barriers being pushed around at the Stade de France prior to the match against Real Madrid.
To find out what went wrong within their organization, the UEFA leadership ordered the report. Sky News discovered its conclusions before the report was published in its entirety on Monday evening.
Access to the venue was difficult. French authorities will be criticised for trying to deflect responsibility after false claims concerning a mass of people without tickets or fake tickets.
Police will be held responsible for failing to intervene when locals tried to climb fences or jump turnstiles to attack fans and for being too dependent on tear gas and pepper spray to punish innocent fans.
UEFA is the event owner and has been given “primary responsibility”, although some members of the commission disagree with this conclusion.
Continue reading: What really happened at the Stade de France
Reports also state that the police and French Football Federation (FFF), “bear responsibility” for their roles in ensuring public safety.
According to some, the absence of a “Plan B” was discovered. This could have led to police and stewards being redeployed to handle crowd management issues.
Due to operational issues outside the venue, the match was delayed by 37 minutes. This caused access problems for many fans, especially those with asthma and disabled. They also had to deal with tear gas and pepper spray.
The “massive” bottleneck was created when Liverpool supporters were funnelled through narrow gaps and tear gas was fired into an area that contained thousands of Liverpool fans.
The French authorities tried to blame ticketless supporters on May 28th, but the commission refuted this claim and stated that late arrivals weren’t a problem since problems became apparent three hours before kickoff.
This report will claim that the senior management at UEFA Events SA – which is the UEFA division running tournaments, showpiece matches and other events – has marginalised safety and security with the use subcontracted stewards. Then they tried to avoid accountability.
The panel will criticize Martin Kallen, CEO of UEFA Events SA, for allegedly falsifying accounts.
UEFA apologized to Liverpool fans for the near miss and ordered an investigation to find out what its mistakes were.
Final moved to Russia
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UEFA had to change the venue and reorganize its plans for the final.
Three months prior to the final, Saint Petersburg was removed from the hosting position.
Venues are usually chosen several years in advance. However, the finals were moved closer to the game because of coronavirus pandemic travel problems.
The review team discovered that organizers were too dependent on the French Cup final operational plans – a fixture that involves domestic teams and not thousands of foreigners.
The French Football Federation is believed to have not done a venue risk assessment nor a “proper” event assessment.
On Monday, the FFF did not respond to email messages or its media website requesting comment.
“No evidence of mass ticketless supporters”
UEFA will be told that it failed to do more to address the failures of joined-up working and to find solutions.
Despite the French government and UEFA making statements about the night, there was no evidence that mass ticketless supporters were present.
More than 2,500 Liverpool fans couldn’t register tickets at the turnstiles.
Access points at the turnstiles could mistakenly consider them fake, leading to rushed conclusions and possibly pointing out problems with the infrastructure at Stade de France.
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Sky News was told by an MP who was present at the game that the scenes outside Stade de France were “a step away from disaster”
Ian Byrne (Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby) said that it looked extremely promising that there would be an exoneration of Liverpool fans and a complete vindication to what I and many Liverpool fans had said at the time.
“I cannot wait to read the report and digest it, and I hope it’s the truth that we were looking for.
“We are entitled to a full apology from France, the ministers who lied and smeared before kick-off and from UEFA.”
He said, “It was one of the most hostile policing environments I have ever encountered.” It was horrible and the report will reflect that. We were treated as animals.
“Hopefully, the report shows that the Liverpool supporters kept their cool and acted with such dignity and intelligence to prevent a catastrophe that would have resulted in the French authorities being made.”
He was also present at the 1989 Liverpool FA Cup semi-final match at Hillsborough that saw the death of 97 people. However, he said that although there was progress in stadium safety, the Newcastle incident that involved Newcastle fans proved that it was still a “quest for stadium security.”
Due to poor route planning at a train station, access issues to the stadium were a problem. This led to dangerous scenes and congestion on May 28.
The panel believes that the safety and security unit of UEFA should have been utilized to coordinate with local authorities to verify the route to the stadium, and to ensure that turnstiles worked.
A request for comment was not received from the French sports ministry. UEFA did not respond to a request for comment before receiving the report.
An ex-Portuguese minister, Dr Tiago Rodrigues, was the chief of the independent review. Sports safety experts and English fan representatives were also consulted.
In a UEFA statement last year, Dr Rodrigues stated that the events of 28 Mai were “distressing for all involved.” This review will examine the evidence objectively, identify the responsibilities and determine how to move forward.