Liverpool have implored UEFA to fully implement all the recommendations made in the highly-critical independent report into last year’s Champions League final chaos.
European football’s governing body commissioned a team led by Portuguese Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to look into issues of dangerous congestion, supporters being attacked by locals and tear-gassed by police and the all-round operation at the Stade de France in May and it lays the blame at the feet of UEFA and the French authorities.
The report stated European football’s governing body bore “primary responsibility for failures” which almost led to the final against Real Madrid becoming a “mass fatality catastrophe”.
A Liverpool statement read: “Last night UEFA published the Independent Panel Report into the failings that we saw first-hand in Paris and it is within this context that 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.’
“We implore UEFA to fully enact the recommendations as outlined by the panel – no matter how difficult – to ensure supporter safety is the number one priority at the heart of every UEFA football fixture.
“We were determined to make sure a robust investigation was conducted in order that lessons are learned to ensure the safety of football supporters in Europe is never compromised again.
“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.”
Professor Clifford Stott, co-author of the report, said pressure now had to be put on UEFA to effect the necessary changes.
“Everyone would be naive to assume that change is simply going to flow from this report,” Stott, a professor of social psychology at Keele University who has been involved as an advisor on policy for UEFA since 2004, told Sky Sports News.
“There have been ample reports before – we have seen reports from 2005, 2006, 2016 – making a whole series of recommendations about security methods which needed (to be) implemented at the stadium in Paris which have not been followed.
“We must have doubt…and that the same thing (will) happen again.
“The momentum we now have to generate, the conversation we need to have, is how can we pull stakeholders together, including fans, to drive this situation towards one where UEFA is forced to implement the core recommendations of this report.”
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said that was exactly what the club planned to do.
“This is not the end of the process. This is where the hard work really needs to start now,” he told the club’s website.
“The two things that we asked for were number one: an independent report so that we could understand what exactly happened, and number two: to ensure that this never happens again – that’s the part that we need to move to now to make sure that this never happens again.
“This is about all matches that take place and the behaviour of police, the operational delivery of these events needs to be looked at in the case-by-case basis to ensure that safety and fan safety, supporter safety, is at the heart of all of the operational planning that goes on.
“It can’t just be a focus on finals, it has to be a focus on all of the matches that we conduct across Europe and that’s really UEFA’s role and responsibility to deliver on that.
“So, effectively from our perspective we want to now see UEFA take these 21 recommendations and put them into practice.”
The report also fully exonerated fans who were initially blamed by UEFA for arriving late at the ground and causing the kick-off to be delayed by more than half-an-hour.
French authorities also inaccurately claimed the problems were due to thousands of fans without tickets or forgeries trying to gain access.
“Shocking false narratives were peddled in the immediate aftermath of that night in Paris; narratives that have since been totally disproven,” said Liverpool’s statement.
“The independent French Senate report published in July 2022 found Liverpool supporters were unfairly and wrongly blamed for the chaotic scenes to divert attention from the real organisational failures.”
Many fans who attended the Stade de France were survivors, or relatives of victims, of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 97 people were killed and for them in particular the events of that night were particularly traumatic.
“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,” added Liverpool’s statement.
“But even more concerning is the realisation that for families, friends and survivors of Hillsborough, Paris has only exacerbated their suffering.”