Liverpool: Authorities ‘deflecting responsibility’ for Champions League chaos

UEFA and French government ministers claimed ‘industrial level’ ticket fraud was to blame for the scenes outside the match in Paris.
Liverpool: Authorities ‘deflecting responsibility’ for Champions League chaos

By PA Sport Staff

Liverpool have accused French authorities of trying to “deflect responsibility” for the chaotic scenes that marred Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.

European governing body UEFA announced on Monday that an independent and comprehensive review will be conducted into the dangerous events outside the Stade de France.

Liverpool fans were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by police as they waited in huge queues prior to the game against Real Madrid, with the access problems leading to a kick-off delay of 36 minutes.

UEFA initially blamed the late arrival of fans for the problems, which included some supporters being crushed, before later issuing a statement referring to fake tickets as the cause.

French government ministers reiterated the latter claims on Monday, alleging “fraud at an industrial level” leading to the fiasco that followed.

This version of events has been challenged by numerous fans and other independent eye-witnesses, including numerous media outlets.

Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan told the club’s website, www.liverpoolfc.com: “I would just say we are incredibly surprised that someone in that position would make comments in the first place at this point, when we haven’t had adequate time to understand what happened. There hasn’t been an independent investigation to establish all the facts.

“We should know all the facts to make sure that the scenes that we’ve all seen – absolutely disgraceful – from Saturday don’t ever happen again.

“Making comments as deeply unhelpful as that, we just feel that everyone should be focused on getting the investigation right and less about making inflammatory comments that attempt to deflect responsibility for what happened on Saturday night.

France Soccer Champions League Final
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin claims fraud took place on an “industrial level” (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

“I think it’s important that folks know that our chairman, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister to articulate our views and is calling for an apology to our fans for those comments.”

Representatives of the local authorities, police and match organisers met on Monday to review events.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said at a press conference: “There was massive fraud at an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets, 70 per cent of tickets were fake tickets coming into the Stade de France.

“The massive presence of the fake tickets was the issue which meant there were delays, three times the match was delayed.”

Sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said: “The major point is to try to understand precisely what happened during this massive fraud.

“There are witnesses and the figures corroborate this – 30,000-40,000 people without tickets or with fake tickets and we saw some fake tickets.”

Liverpool v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Final – Stade de France
Liverpool fans were stuck outside the ground, with the kick-off delayed (Adam Davy/PA)

Hogan was also angered about UEFA’s initial remarks about fans arriving late.

He said: “To say our fans didn’t turn up on time is crazy.

“My colleagues across the club, our ownership and I, we all saw it with our own eyes. We were outside the ground, on the ground, in those crowds and from everything I saw, our fans arrived early and they were queuing as directed by authorities.”

UEFA has confirmed the review will be carried out by by Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, a member of the Portuguese parliament and former member of the World Anti-Doping Agency Foundation Board.

It commissioned the report following calls from all parties and leading politicians for a thorough investigation.

Police aimed pepper spray at people outside the ground
Police aimed pepper spray at people outside the ground (Adam Davy/PA)

A statement read: “The comprehensive review will examine decision-making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final.

“Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties and the findings of the independent report will be made public once completed and, upon receipt of the findings, UEFA will evaluate the next steps.”

Liverpool have begun compiling their own evidence with supporters and other people present invited to report their experiences via a feedback form on their website.

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