UEFA will refund Liverpool fans who bought tickets for last season’s chaotic Champions League final after acknowledging the “negative experience”.
An independent report published last month found European football’s governing body was primarily responsible for serious congestion problems outside the Stade de France in Paris.
Thousands of Liverpool fans were penned in against perimeter fences and stuck in a motorway underpass ahead of the game against Real Madrid.
Those same supporters, who had already been targeted by local youths trying to steal tickets, were then tear-gassed by police trying to alleviate further problems after a decision was made to close turnstile gates.
Following the report’s publication UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis apologised to those affected by events and the governing body has now implemented a special refund scheme.
“We have taken into account a huge number of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have devised a scheme that is comprehensive and fair,” said a statement.
“We value the input from the Liverpool FC supporter organisations Spirit of Shankly (SoS) and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) as well as the open and transparent dialogue throughout this period.
“We recognise the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and with this scheme we will refund fans who had bought tickets and who were the most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium.”
Refunds will be available to all fans with tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z where the most difficult circumstances were reported plus all fans who were not able to enter the stadium before the 9pm scheduled kick-off time (the start was delayed by more than half-an-hour) or who were not able to enter the stadium at all will be eligible for a refund.
All fans who purchased accessibility tickets along with those of their accompanying persons will be refunded but, given the criteria, the refund will nevertheless apply to all the 19,618 tickets of Liverpool’s official allocation.
Refunds are also available to Real Madrid and neutral fans who meet the criteria.
The move has been welcomed by SoS and LDSA but the supporters’ groups do not believe it goes far enough.
“This unprecedented move is the result of tireless work, alongside FSE (Football Supporters Europe) and Ian Byrne MP (for West Derby in the city), to hold those responsible for the catastrophic events in Paris,” said a joint statement.
“With a promise to reimburse supporters, UEFA have gone some way to acknowledging their part in the fiasco.
“But it does not excuse UEFA, exempt them from criticism or lessen the need for them to implement all of the recommendations made by the independent inquiry.”
The offer of a refund, however, will not halt the legal action which is being pursued by fans, some of whom were left severely affected after being caught up in the events in Paris.
“UEFA did not just ruin the biggest event in the football season, people were injured and traumatised and any compensation needs to reflect that,” said Clare Campbell and Jill Paterson, partners at law firm Leigh Day which is representing more than 900 Liverpool fans in a claim against UEFA.
“We will be pushing ahead with our legal claim to seek appropriate compensation for our clients, and await an urgent reply to a letter of claim that we have sent to UEFA setting out the legal basis for the action.”
Tony Winterburn, a partner at Pogust Goodhead which is also running a legal case against UEFA alongside Liverpool-based law firm Binghams, added: “Digesting the fine details of this scheme will allow us to determine if it is, in fact, ‘comprehensive and fair’.
“Although this does present as a step towards UEFA accepting responsibility for the events our legal case is still progressing.
“It is pertinent the extent of the physical and psychological injuries of our clients remains at the forefront of this process.
“We believe the term ‘refund’, in its broadest sense, does not go far enough in providing redress or acknowledging the true harm suffered by those at an event that should have been safe for all to attend.”