UEFA, organizer of the final of the Europe Champions Leagueis “primarily responsible” for the serious incidents that took place in the final of the tournament at the Stade de France in May last year, concluded a group of experts at the end of an independent investigation commissioned by the European federation.
“The group concludes that UEFA, as the owner of the event, bears the primary responsibility for the failures that almost became a disaster,” says the experts’ report, which AFP had access to, which also criticizes the Paris police and the Federation. French Football Federation (FFF).
“While it is reasonable to delegate security tasks to others, first and foremost to the FFF, and to refer security matters to (…) the police, this does not mean that UEFA is exempt from its responsibility. UEFA had a central role in the organization of the event and should have watched, supervised and collaborated with the security measures”, continues the document.
“The other parties made mistakes that contributed (to the incidents), but it was UEFA who were in control” of organizing the final between Real Madrid e Liverpoolon May 28, 2022.
Experts criticize the FFF for its “key role” in organizing the game as the host association and noted “communication failures” with the police and transport authorities, which led to fans collapsing on arrival at the stadium.
Criticism of the police reaction
“These errors should not have happened and, when they were detected, the FFF should consider them as a priority”, points out the report.
Turmoil in the accesses, fans attacked with tear gas and victims of robberies. Failures in the security device in the final held at the Stade de France provided chaotic scenes, causing great controversy both in France and in England.
The report also criticizes the reaction of the French security forces, given that the use of tear gas “has no place in a football party”.
The experts responsible for the investigation, led by the former Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of Portugal Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, were “stunned” at the possibility that the police response was influenced by the image of Liverpool fans identified as “hooligans”, an “inexplicable misconception”.
At first, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin blamed the British fans, many of whom had traveled to Paris with fake tickets, although police chief Didier Lallement later admitted he might have been “misguided”. in the numbers, recognizing a “failure”.
The experts found “no evidence of an abnormally high number of fans without tickets or with false tickets”, and criticized the estimates of the French authorities, “falsely inflated and exaggerated”, suggesting the intention to “deflect their responsibility for operational failures”.
Contacted by AFP, France’s interior ministry declined to comment on the investigation.
A government report pointed out mismatches in the functioning of the police and the organization in an episode that damaged the image of France, which will host the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Apologies from UEFA
UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis apologized in a statement on behalf of the association: “On behalf of UEFA, I would like to sincerely apologize once again to all those who have been affected by the events that have developed in what should have been a celebration at the height of the club season”.
“In particular, I would like to apologize to Liverpool fans for the experiences many of them had attending the game and for the messages released before and during the game which had the effect of unfairly blaming them for the situation which led to kick-off being delayed.” .
“UEFA is committed to learning from the events of 28 May and will cooperate closely with supporter groups, finalist clubs, host associations and local authorities in order to deliver exceptional finals where everyone can enjoy the game at a safe and welcoming environment”, added Theodoridis.
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