14.02.2023 11:42 h

Liverpool call for UEFA action to guarantee supporter safety

Liverpool called on UEFA to do the "right thing" in implementing a series of recommendations after a damning report found European football's governing body responsible for the chaos that surrounded last year's Champions League final in Paris.

The independent report, commissioned by UEFA, found that they bore "primary responsibility for failures which almost led to disaster."

French police and authorities were also criticised for a lack of planning and a heavy-handed response to supporters, based on incorrect assumptions that fans posed a threat to public order.

Real Madrid's 1-0 win at the Stade de France on May 28 was overshadowed by events surrounding European football's showpiece event.

Kick-off was delayed by 37 minutes as fans struggled to access the stadium after being funnelled into overcrowded bottlenecks on approach.

Police then fired tear gas towards thousands of supporters locked behind metal fences on the perimeter to the stadium.

UEFA then tried to pin the blame on Liverpool fans arriving late despite thousands having been held for hours outside the stadium before kick-off.

In a statement on Monday, UEFA apologised to Liverpool fans for "unjustly blaming them for the situation leading to the delayed kick-off."

The report found there has been "a clear and immediate danger of a fatal crush" and that the action of Liverpool supporters had in fact saved lives.

"We call on UEFA and others at the top of the football regulation pyramid to come together and take positive and transparent action to ensure there are no more 'near misses'," Liverpool said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As a football club with proud history in Europe, we call on UEFA to do the right thing and implement the 21 recommendations to ensure the safety of all football supporters attending any future UEFA football match."

Another of the report's key findings was that the policing model was influenced by a view of Liverpool based on the deadly 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which caused the death of 97 fans.

After decades of fighting for justice, British police chiefs apologised to the families of the victims just last month, recognising that "police failures were the main cause of the tragedy".

For many Liverpool fans the scenes in Paris provoked traumatic flashbacks of what happened at Hillsborough.

The Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance has seen a spike in fans seeking mental health support since events at the Stade de France.

"Shocking false narratives were peddled in the immediate aftermath of that night in Paris; narratives that have since been totally disproven," added the Liverpool statement.

"It is shocking that more than 30 years after the Hillsborough disaster any club and our group of fans would be subject to such fundamental safety failings which have had such a devastating impact on so many.

"But even more concerning is the realisation that for families, friends and survivors of Hillsborough, Paris has only exacerbated their suffering."