Liverpool chairman demands apology from French minister over Champions League final claims

·3-min read

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has demanded French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera apologises for "irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful" comments about the conduct of the club's fans at the Champions League final.

The match at the Stade de France was delayed by over half an hour as thousands of Liverpool fans struggled to enter the stadium, with widely circulated social media footage showing supporters being targeted with tear gas by police and placed at risk of a crush.

While UEFA announced an independent investigation into the events after calls from Liverpool, a British member of parliament, and UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries, the French government has continued to blame English supporters for the events.

Having repeated UEFA's initial claims that fans using "fake tickets" had caused congestion, Oudea-Castera told French radio station RTL the Premier League club was to blame for "letting its supporters out in the wild."

Liverpool chairman Werner has hit out at those claims in a strongly worded letter to the minister, outlining his concern over her "disrespectful" comments and seeking assurances the French authorities will cooperate with the investigation.

"I am writing to you today out of utter disbelief that a minister of the French government, a position of enormous responsibility and influence, could make a series of unproven pronouncements on a matter of such significance before a proper, formal, independent investigation process has even taken place," began the widely published letter.

"The events that occurred in and around the Stade de France on Saturday night at the UEFA Champions League final were not only incredibly dangerous for all who attended, but raised serious questions about the organisation and operation of the event.

"This should be the focus of all interested parties today, rather than pursuing a blame game strategy via press conference.

"I have received countless emails from Liverpool supporters who were frightened to death, and subject to police harassment, pepper spray and tear gas. Moreover, the situation was no better at the end of the evening than at the beginning, with many fans robbed, and attacked by gangs.

"These fans were treated like cattle.

"How can loose data and unverified assertions presented this morning be anywhere near factual without a truly independent and transparent investigation with the right stakeholders, including our supporters, our club and others taking place?

"Worse still, these assertions undermine the pursuit of truth and transparency which should underpin the motivations of any organisation or individual with a desire to ensure such unacceptable scenes are never repeated.

"The fact that your public position went against this objective is a concern in itself. That you did so without any recourse to ourselves or our supporters is an even greater one. All voices should count in this process, and they should count equally and fairly.

"As a club, it was already our strong feeling that any investigation should be impartial, independent, and transparent. This view has only intensified as a direct result of your public comments and the impact they have had on a narrative which runs contrary to the experiences of many.

"Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally.

"The UEFA Champions League final should be one of the finest spectacles in world sport, and instead it devolved into one of the worst security collapses in recent memory.

"On behalf of all the fans who experienced this nightmare I demand an apology from you, and assurance that the French authorities and UEFA allow an independent and transparent investigation to proceed."

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