UEFA orders report into Champions League final scenes

UEFA, football’s European governing body, has commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

Kick-off for the match, which Real Madrid won 1-0, was delayed by more than half an hour as thousands of fans remained outside of the stadium. Some fans queued outside for more than two hours, while videos circulated on social media showed police using pepper spray and tear gas as supporters tried to scan their tickets at the stadium turnstiles.

Liverpool called for a formal investigation to be carried out over what it described as the “unacceptable” treatment of its supporters. The club said it was “hugely disappointed” at the stadium entry issues and the breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced at the stadium.

In the immediate aftermath of the match, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin claimed that thousands of British supporters “without tickets or with counterfeit tickets forced entry and sometimes assaulted stewards”. Journalists at the match reported that local youths were climbing over the stadium fences, with Liverpool supporters shouting at them to “get down”.

UEFA has now commissioned an independent review, which will be produced by Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues of Portugal. He is a Member of the Portuguese Parliament and the President of the Parliamentary Committee of Environment and Energy, and was the Portuguese Minister of Education between 2015 and 2022, a role which also included sports and youth.

UEFA said that evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties and the findings of the independent report will be made public once completed. UEFA will evaluate the next steps upon receipt of the findings.

The announcement came after Darmanin yesterday (Monday) blamed the scenes on “industrial-level” ticket fraud and claimed that 70% of the tickets were fake. Darmanin also said that there were “30,000 to 40,000” Liverpool fans with fake tickets or without tickets outside the stadium.

“Fifteen per cent of fake tickets also were after the first filtering … more than 2,600 tickets were confirmed by UEFA as non-validated tickets even though they’d gone through the first filtering,” Darmanin said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

France’s Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra also claimed that there had been “no problems” at the Real Madrid end of the stadium, adding that Liverpool had let its fans “out in the wild”.

The claims have been strongly disputed by Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan. “I would just say we are incredibly surprised that someone in that position would make comments in the first place at this point, when we haven’t had adequate time to understand what happened,” he said.

“There hasn’t been an independent investigation to establish all the facts. And as we said on Saturday, there needs to be that independent, transparent investigation into what happened at the match.

“That’s the start of the process. So to be making comments at this stage, prior to any investigation being launched, is completely inappropriate. We should know all the facts to make sure that the scenes that we’ve all seen – absolutely disgraceful – from Saturday don’t ever happen again.”

Liverpool has asked supporters who attended the match to complete a feedback form in order to support an investigation into the operational management of the event. The form can be accessed online and will also be sent via email directly to supporters who purchased a ticket.

The Stade de France staged the final of the UEFA European Championship in 2016 and is due to be a host venue at next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games.

The Champions League final had initially been due to take place at Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena but UEFA moved the match to the Stade de France following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Image: Guilhem Vellut/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size