Liverpool fans have been exonerated for the chaos at the 2022 Champions League final by a report from France’s Senate, which said fans had been “wrongly blamed” by the home secretary to “distract from the state’s incompetence”, safe to stage the event.
Preliminary reporting of the event’s findings instead laid the blame on “gross deficiencies” in intelligence; transport routes for fans; insufficient communication; and questions that go further back in relation to basic planning.
Laurent Lefon, co-chair of the investigation, subsequently blamed a “series of dysfunctions at all levels” in a press conference. Similarly criticized was the ticket validation site, which Liverpool supporters have criticized for creating the initial bottleneck that led to the problems.
Liverpool welcomed the report’s findings and called on the French government to issue a full apology.
The Senate had heard from fans attending the final, from French police, government officials and Uefa events director Martin Kallen. France’s Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin had initially blamed ticketless Liverpool supporters for the delays and problems, with claims that there had been up to 40,000 fake tickets.
In the situation, police used tear gas and pepper spray against fans, affecting children and elderly fans.
This defense has now been demolished by the French Senate. A preliminary report released on Wednesday said: “It is unfair to want to blame Liverpool team supporters for the unrest that has occurred, as the Home Secretary has done to divert attention from the state’s inability to manage properly the crowds present and to stem the action of several hundred violent and coordinated criminals.”
It continues: “The systems put in place had major deficiencies in terms of intelligence (no hooligans but presence of criminals in large numbers), fan transport routes (distance of a delivery route in the vicinity of the stadium) and inadequate communication.
“There were problems not only with the execution. The crisis scenarios were insufficiently processed in advance and did not show the necessary flexibility in view of so many unexpected events.”
Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan said: “I was incredibly heartened to see one of the senators sincerely apologize to Liverpool fans and Real Madrid fans for what happened on the night. And I ask the French government to do the same.
“Not just to the fans of Liverpool and Real Madrid, but to both clubs who had reputation issues after the final and we hope they apologize where one is deserved.”
The Uefa management of the ticketing system was also described as “unsuitable”, due to the lack of training of the law enforcement officers, they were finally overwhelmed.
According to the report, the French Football Federation (FFF) has identified 2,471 fake tickets, of which 1,644 were reserved for Liverpool fans at the south end – quite a difference to the original claims.
Uefa was criticized for not having a counterfeit detection system in place, and the Senate recommended the introduction of anti-counterfeit ticketing for such events, as well as improved coordination between stewards and the police.
The Senate said French authorities must learn from the “grave collective failure” ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.
Additional reporting by PA
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/liverpool-champions-league-final-choas-paris-senate-report-b2122214.html Liverpool fans exonerated after being ‘wrongly’ blamed for Champions League final chaos