UEFA issues apology to fans for 'frightening and distressing' events at Champions League final

·3-min read

UEFA has apologised to spectators at the Champions League final for the "frightening and distressing events" in the build-up to last Saturday's contest.

The European showpiece in Paris was twice delayed due to what UEFA initially described as "security reasons" outside the Stade de France due to crowd congestion.

Real Madrid went on to lift the trophy by defeating Liverpool 1-0 after the match started 36 minutes late at 21:36 local time, but events outside the ground appeared of greater concern.

Liverpool fans had complained of heavy-handed policing outside the stadium, with video footage showing tear gas being used on supporters.

The Premier League club called for an investigation into the ongoings at the final, while UEFA blamed ticketless fans trying to force entry and supporters using fake tickets.

Reds supporters group Spirit of Shankly responded by hitting out at the "incompetence" of the organisation, and Liverpool reiterated their demands for a full probe into the issues.

The UK's culture secretary Nadine Dorries followed suit by stating fans had been "treated like animals" at the match, contrary to the suggestions by French ministers that had pinned the blame on supporters.

UEFA subsequently announced an investigation into the matter, and has since issued an apology to the spectators on Friday.

"UEFA wishes to sincerely apologise to all spectators who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France on 28 May 2022 in Paris, on a night, which should have been a celebration of European club football," the statement read.

"No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again."

UEFA also reaffirmed its plans for an investigation, with the independent review led by Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues from Portugal.

"The review will seek to establish a full picture and timeline of what occurred during the day, both within the stadium and the surrounding areas, including examining spectator flows to the stadium via the various access points," the statement continued.

"It will also examine all relevant operational plans related to security, mobility, ticketing, as well as others at the discretion of the chairman of the Review, and will examine the planning and preparedness of the involved entities for the staging of the final, including at additional sites such as the Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF fan meeting points.

"The independent review aims to identify any issues or gaps in the implementation and running of operations and assess the roles and responsibilities of all the entities involved and the adequacy of their response to events, in order to make recommendations on best practices for the future for UEFA and the relevant stakeholders.

"The review will engage with UEFA and all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, fan groups including Football Supporters Europe as well as those of the two finalist clubs; the finalist clubs themselves; general spectators; the French Football Federation; the police and other public national and local authorities, and the stadium operator.

"The findings of the review, conclusions, and recommendations will be set out in detail in the report and will be those of Dr. Tiago Brandao Rodrigues and the experts who will support him.

"The review will start immediately and should be concluded within the shortest possible timeframe needed to produce a comprehensive review of the events."

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