Liverpool MP calls for retraction of Champions League final ‘smears’

Labour MP Ian Byrne has called on UEFA to follow up its apology for the chaotic scenes at the Champions League final with a “retraction of the smears” against Liverpool fans.

The governing body apologised for access issues that led to fans being crushed and tear-gassed outside the Stade de France in Paris before Real Madrid’s 1-0 win against Liverpool.

That came after UEFA initially blamed the problems on the late arrival of fans before later issuing a statement referring to fake tickets as the cause.

Byrne, who is the MP for Liverpool West Derby and attended the match, wants UEFA to go further.

“It was the worst event I’ve ever seen around a football match since 1989 at Hillsborough and it could have been as serious as Hillsborough with the lives lost,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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“It was only the patience of the Liverpool supporters that prevented that from happening because we got absolutely nothing from the authorities.

“But we need to continue to demand a full public apology and retraction of the smears that were given about the Liverpool fans regarding the delayed kick-off and everything else that’s happened.”

UEFA “sincerely” apologised to all fans affected by the chaotic events on Friday, having earlier opened an independent review

A statement read: “UEFA wishes to sincerely apologise to all spectators who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France on 28 May 2022 in Paris, on a night which should have been a celebration of European club football.  No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again.

“To that end, immediately after the events, UEFA commissioned an Independent Review to identify shortcomings and responsibilities of all entities involved in the organisation of the final, and has today published the Terms of Reference for this review.

“The Independent Review, which will be led by Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues from Portugal, aims at understanding what happened in the build-up to the final, and determining what lessons should be learned to ensure there is no repeat of the actions and events of that day.

“The Review will seek to establish a full picture and timeline of what occurred during the day, both within the stadium and the surrounding areas, including examining spectator flows to the stadium via the various access points.”

UEFA said it will also examine “all relevant operational plans related to security, mobility, ticketing, as well as others”, plus “the planning and preparedness of the involved entities for the staging of the final, including at additional sites such as the Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF fan meeting points”.

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UEFA added: “The Review will engage with UEFA and all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, fan groups including Football Supporters Europe as well as those of the two finalist clubs; the finalist clubs themselves; general spectators; the French Football Federation; the Police and other public national and local authorities, and the stadium operator.”

UEFA confirmed it would set up an online questionnaire so all “relevant parties can submit their testimonies” via a dedicated e-mail address, which has yet to be announced.

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