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UEFA’s Champions League final refund scheme ‘insufficient’, says Real Madrid

Featured image credit: Guilhem Vellut/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

Featured image credit: Guilhem Vellut/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

Spanish LaLiga football club Real Madrid has rejected a refund scheme proposed by UEFA for fans affected by events in the lead-up to last year’s Champions League final against Liverpool at the Stade de France in Paris.

On Tuesday, UEFA announced that it would be implementing a special refund scheme for supporters, with the scheme covering all of Liverpool’s 19,618 ticket allocation.

Refunds have been made available to all fans with tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z, as well as supporters 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. Refunds have also been offered to fans who purchased accessibility tickets and their accompanying persons.

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”.

Liverpool fans purchased tickets from the club and not directly from UEFA. Liverpool has agreed to implement the refund scheme, with UEFA to accordingly reimburse the club the total value of the tickets.

UEFA said that 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. In a statement released earlier today (Thursday), Real Madrid has deemed UEFA’s proposal “insufficient”.

The club has decided not to collaborate with the scheme proposed by UEFA and has pledged to set up a service in the coming days for members and fans to assess appropriate claims against the governing body.

Real Madrid said that it held talks with UEFA to assess the compensation that would be offered to fans, with the club trusting that the solutions would be in line with the seriousness of the events, the scope of damage caused – Real Madrid states that fans had tickets, bags, phones and wallets stolen – and UEFA’s responsibility for the chaos before the match.

The report released last month 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.

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”.