UEFA, football’s European governing body, has announced that it will be implementing a special refund scheme for Liverpool fans affected by events in the lead-up to last year’s Champions League final against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.
Refunds will be available to all fans with tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z, where the most difficult circumstances were reported. Additionally, all fans who, according to the access control data, did not enter the stadium before 9pm local time (the originally scheduled kick-off time), or who were not able to enter the stadium at all, will be eligible for a refund.
UEFA will also offer refunds to all fans who purchased accessibility tickets along with those of their accompanying persons. Given the criteria outlined by UEFA today (Tuesday), the refund scheme covers all of Liverpool’s 19,618 ticket allocation for the final.
Kick-off for the final, 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 turnstiles.
Following the match, Liverpool called for a formal investigation to be carried out over what it described as the “unacceptable” treatment of its supporters, while Real Madrid said that several of its fans were “attacked, harassed, assaulted and robbed in violent fashion”, adding that its fans and supporters “deserve a response”.
Last month, Theodore Theodoridis, general secretary at UEFA, issued an apology to Liverpool supporters after an independent review into events at last year’s final found that the governing body bears primary responsibility for failures which “almost led to disaster”.
The report was compiled based on interviews and testimonies of numerous witnesses and stakeholders, including Liverpool and Real Madrid fans. The report concluded that it was “remarkable that no one lost their life” at the match, with UEFA stating that the report highlighted a “number of important lessons” about how the organisation of the final could have been improved.
Liverpool fans purchased tickets from the club and not directly from UEFA. As a result, UEFA has requested that Liverpool implements the refunds to ensure personal data protection and for ease of process.
The club has confirmed that it will implement the special refund scheme, and UEFA will accordingly reimburse Liverpool the total value of these tickets. The club will then process the refunds to its supporters.
Refunds for Real Madrid fans who meet the criteria will be processed based on the requests received from the ticket buyer via UEFA’s customer service. The same applies for neutral supporters who purchased tickets directly from UEFA and who are eligible for a refund.
Theodoridis said today: “We have taken into account a huge number of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have devised a scheme that is comprehensive and fair.
“We value the input from the Liverpool FC supporter organisations Spirit of Shankly (SoS) and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) as well as the open and transparent dialogue throughout this period. We recognise the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and with this scheme we will refund fans who had bought tickets and who were the most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium.”
The independent panel which produced the report into the events at last year’s final concluded that there were two “overarching organisational failures” that lie at the root of what went wrong. Firstly, the UEFA ‘model’ for organising the final was deemed to be defective in that there was an absence of overall control or oversight of safety and security.
The report also found that the safety, security and service model laid out in the Saint-Denis Convention was ignored in favour of a “securitised” approach which was inappropriately based on “incorrect assumptions that Liverpool FC supporters posed significant threat to public order”.