UEFA ‘responsible’ for chaos before Liverpool v Real Madrid in Paris
UEFA bears “primary responsibility” for the chaotic scenes that “almost led to disaster” before last year’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, says an independent report.
Fans were penned in and teargassed outside Paris’s Stade de France as kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes.
“It is remarkable no one lost their life,” said the report, which UEFA commissioned after the 28 May final.
UEFA and French authorities initially blamed ticketless fans for the events.
The report says there is “no evidence” to support the “reprehensible” claims.
“The panel has concluded that UEFA, as event owner, bears primary responsibility for failures which almost led to disaster,” said the report.
“All the stakeholders interviewed by the panel have agreed that this situation was a near-miss: a term used when an event almost turns into a mass fatality catastrophe.”
While it said there was “contributory fault” from other bodies – particularly French police and the French Football Federation – the findings said European governing body UEFA was “at the wheel”.
“UEFA should have retained a monitoring and oversight role [of security], to ensure it all worked. It self-evidently did not,” the report added.
UEFA commissioned the independent report three days after the match – the showpiece of European club football which Liverpool went on to lose 1-0 – took place in the French capital.
The European governing body said a “comprehensive review” would examine a number of factors that include the decision-making, responsibility and behaviour of all parties involved in the final.
The investigation found eight key factors that “almost led to disaster” because of UEFA’s failure, which included:
- a disproportionately large number of Liverpool supporters being directed to the Stade de France Saint-Denis train station
- poor route planning between the train station and the stadium
- inadequate ticketing systems and entry mechanisms at the additional security perimeters
- large groups of locals gaining entry to the stadium and a failure to police them
- police using tear gas and pepper spray in the concourses
It also said the collective action of Liverpool supporters was “probably instrumental” in preventing “more serious injuries and deaths” outside the stadium.
The investigation was chaired by Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, a Portuguese politician, with the panel also including experts and consultants from legal, policing and event-management fields, along with representatives from football fan groups.
“The enthusiasm around the game rapidly turned into a real ‘near miss’ which was harmful to a significant number of fans from both clubs,” said Dr Rodrigues.
“This should never have happened at such an important sporting event, and it is unacceptable that it took place at the heart of the European continent.”
The report made 21 recommendations in an attempt to ensure “everything possible is done” to prevent any similar incident happening again at a major sporting event.
It also warned French authorities this should be a “wake-up call” before it hosts the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.