I really wish I were sitting here to write about the parade for the Liverpool Men’s and Women’s teams. They both had absolutely sensational seasons that deserve to be celebrated to the fullest extent. The Women ran the table in the FA Women’s championship to comfortably win promotion back to the WSL while the Men came within a whisker of the quadruple, settling instead for just the domestic double.
Unfortunately, the major talking points the day after the Champions League final are not Liverpool coming agonizingly close to yet another trophy this season, but rather the horrific treatment of the Liverpool fans by the authorities in Paris. It has been an emotional guy punch, perfectly chronicled by Will, much more distressing than the final score of the match itself.
Liverpool FC CEO Billy Hogan has said that the club is requesting a full, independent, investigation into the terrible planning and crowd management, not to mention false narratives perpetrated by the official UEFA communications.
Our CEO Billy Hogan has provided an update from the club on the issues experienced by supporters at Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris. pic.twitter.com/K17mAkkJJa— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 29, 2022
I’m just back – obviously an incredibly difficult night, a disappointing night. But what happened outside the stadium completely overshadowed it. The stadium entry and the breakdown of security in the perimeter was absolutely unacceptable and frankly the treatment of our fans as well. As we discussed last night with UEFA, we are asking for a full and transparent investigation; an independent investigation that can help to establish the facts. It’s absolutely imperative that we understand what happened last night and how we got into that situation where people’s safety was put at risk. It’s important we understand what happened last night but it’s also important we make sure that we take whatever the lessons are and ensure it never happens again.
As an example, the Merseyside Police was on the ground just in an advisory capacity last night and you may have seen they put a statement out earlier today where they talked about the behaviour of the fans being exemplary; queuing and doing what they were asked to do in terms of queuing and being orderly. In addition, the fact that fans were there very early at the stadium as well. So, we’re intent on ensuring there’s an independent investigation and obviously we as the club will be absolutely part of that and co-operative. We look forward to making sure that’s done and done well.
As mentioned, the Merseyside Police (MerPol) were on hand as they usually are for away European matches in an observatory and advisory capacity. They liaise with local authorities and the Liverpool supporter groups ahead of matches to avoid just these sorts of situations. MerPol have released their own statement:
We are aware of a number of reports relating to incidents both before and after last night’s Champions League Final as the Stade de France in Paris. We are also aware that Liverpool FC have requested a formal investigation from UEFA and we will be linking in with both the club, UEFA and the UK Football Policing Unit to pass on the observations of our officers who attended the game and took part in the pre-match meetings with the relevant authorities.
As with all European matches officers from Merseyside were deployed in France to work in an observatory and advisory capacity with the local officers, and they have rported the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at the turnstiles early and queuing as directed and their observations will be passed to the relevant authorities as part of the debrief of the game. Many thousands of fans have traveled throughout this season to matches across Europe and we have worked closely with our supporter groups, the Club and European hosts to ensure that the matches passed without incident and fans were kept safe. Our officers returning today will conduct a formal debrief to ensure that we can fully support any subsequent investigation following last night’s game.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE | We have issued the following statement following last night's Champions League Final: pic.twitter.com/1941jltZQ9— Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice) May 29, 2022
UEFA, who had initially placed blame at fans for showing up late, then saying it was thousands of fans showing up with fake tickets, are now attempting to redirect blame yet again to the local authorities. Journalist Chris Williams has spoken to the UEFA Events Coordinator to attempt to dig into the details of what happened, and UEFA is now saying they handed all authority for entry into the stadium to the host authorities, and all initial reports of late fans and fake tickets originated from those sources rather than UEFA.
Spoken with a UEFA Events Coordinator this afternoon, who was on duty last night. Kettling at the LIV end of the stadium was undertaken without UEFA prior knowledge, by host authorities - it was not discussed in planning, only that ticket checks would be made en route. #UCLfinal— Chris Williams (@Chris78Williams) May 29, 2022
It’s a sad state of affairs quickly devolving into finger pointing in an attempt to deflect blame from the groups actually culpable. As Will mentioned in his article, there were plenty of people who were on hand to refute the initial reporting placing blame at the hands of “unruly Liverpool supporters” thankfully. There were many members of the press caught in the long queues and the crushes who documented their experiences via social media.
It’s important to tell what happened on the ground last night as I see that there are already several versions of ‘The Truth’ flying around. I was on the ground from 6.45pm (2.15 hrs before kick off) when problems began. So here’s a explaining my experiences….— Rob Draper (@draper_rob) May 29, 2022
My crew witnessed, were caught up in, and captured the truth of what happened last night. Fans were funnelled through a tiny passage that was made narrower by police vans. Squeezed into dangerous queues for hours while locals were aggressively forcing entry without intervention.— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) May 29, 2022
It is good that Liverpool FC are pushing for a formal investigation. Liverpool are very much the wrong fan base to try and place false blame on for massive screw ups by the authorities.