The recently released UEFA independent panel report on events in Paris at last year’s 2022 Champions League final cleared Liverpool fans of any and all blame for the chaos that took place in the buildup to the European football season’s headlining match.
In fact, it went further, casting Liverpool fans as potentially the key to avoiding a disaster due to the fanbase’s collective memory of Hillsborough. Initially, though, UEFA’s instinct had been blame Liverpool fans for their failings and those of French authorities.
“It feels just right that it’s now official,” manager Jürgen Klopp said of the report. “Everybody knows it now because there were so many things said after the game which we knew were wrong, that were just lies, so I’m really happy that it’s finally said officially.”
What could have been a very, very dark day for European football with a real risk of dead fans and even a mass casualty event was avoided—but as the report made clear, it was not avoided due to any planning or actions by UEFA or Paris’ aggressive policing.
It was avoided because Liverpool fans stayed calm despite the pressure and provocations, and everyone who travelled to Paris to watch a football match deserves respect and praise. And hopefully, the authorities who failed last year will learn from their mistakes.
“Staying calm in a situation where nobody really can stay calm,” Klopp added of the response of Liverpool fans that prevented a disaster. “Tear gas in your eyes, pressure from up front, from the side, from behind, being locked in between thousands of people.
“Not pushing like crazy, staying calm, is a massive thing to do and an extremely difficult thing to do. And then getting out of it and getting blamed for that. It’s horrible, really horrible. There’s a lot to improve and I hope everybody learned from it.”