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Paris (AFP) – UEFA, organizer of the Champions League final, is “primarily responsible” for the serious incidents “that almost led to disaster” last May at the Stade de France, a group of experts concludes at the end of an independent investigation requested by the European instance.
“The group concludes that UEFA, as the owner of the event, bears the primary responsibility for the failures that almost led to disaster,” it can be read in a long document to which the AFP news agencies had access and which also criticizes the Police Prefecture and the French Football Federation (FFF).
“Although it is reasonable to delegate security tasks to others, in the first place the FFF and to refer to (…) the Police Prefecture for security issues, it does not mean that UEFA is absolved of its responsibility. UEFA was playing a central role in the organization of the event and should have monitored, supervised and contributed to the security measures,” according to the experts.
“The other parties made mistakes that contributed (to the incidents), but it was UEFA who was in charge” of the organization of the final that Real Madrid and Liverpool played on May 28.
The experts criticize the FFF for its “key role” in organizing the match as the host federation and found “communication failures” with the Police Prefecture and with those responsible for transport, the cause of the collapse of supporters upon arrival at the stadium.
Criticism of the police reaction
“These errors should not have occurred and when they were detected, the FFF should have considered them a priority,” the report notes.
Collapsed accesses, fans and families of fans sprayed with tear gas or victims of robberies. The security device during the final held at the Stade de France offered chaotic scenes, causing great controversy both in France and in England.
The report also criticizes the bad reaction of the French security forces, since the use of tear gas “has no place at a football party.”
The experts responsible for the report, directed by the former Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of Portugal, Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, were “astonished” at the possibility that the police response was influenced by the image of Liverpool fans designated as “hooligans”. “, an “inexplicable misconception”.
Initially, the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin incriminated the British fans, many of whom had traveled to Paris with false tickets, although the prefect Didier Lallement later admitted that he could have been “wrong” in the figures, acknowledging a ” failure”.
The experts have not found “any evidence of an abnormally high number of fans without tickets or with fake tickets”, criticizing the figures given by the French authorities, “falsely inflated and exaggerated”, suggesting that it could be due to the intention to “divert their responsibility for operational failures.
Contacted by AFP, the French Ministry of the Interior declined to comment on the experts’ conclusions.
A government report pointed out imbalances in the operation of the police and the organization in an episode that damaged the image of France, especially with a view to the Paris-2024 Games.
Apologies from UEFA
UEFA Secretary General Theodore Theodoridis apologized in a statement on behalf of the European body: “On behalf of UEFA, I would like to sincerely apologize once again to all those who were affected by the events that unfolded. in what should have been a celebration at the high point of the club season.
In particular, I would like to apologize to Liverpool FC supporters for the experiences many of them had while attending the match and for the messages released before and during the match which had the effect of unfairly blaming them for the situation that led to the delay of the game. kick-off”.
“UEFA is committed to learning from the events of 28 May, and will cooperate closely with fan groups, finalist clubs, host associations and local authorities in order to deliver an exceptional final where everyone can enjoy the game in a safe and welcoming environment,” added Theodoridis.