UEFA to refund Liverpool fans after Champions League chaos


The Union of European Football Associations will take the unusual step of issuing refunds for more than 19,000 tickets held by Liverpool fans who attended last year’s Champions League final, which was marred by chaos and confusion outside Stade de France in Paris.

The decision comes after an independent inquiry found UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, was at fault for the incident in which thousands of Liverpool fans were unable to get past the Stade de France gates for the May 28 match, which Real Madrid won, 1-0. The start of the final was delayed 36 minutes, and video showed fans being tear-gassed by French police, crushed in bottlenecks and attacked by local gangs. UEFA initially blamed Liverpool fans for the mayhem but later apologized when the inquiry determined that a “large number of near misses … nearly led to disaster.” The investigation’s panel concluded “it is remarkable that no one lost their life.”

UEFA’s refund plan “covers all of the Liverpool FC ticket allocation for the final, i.e. 19,618 tickets,” it said in a statement released Tuesday. Some Liverpool fans with legitimate tickets were refused admission because turnstile scanners did not work. Many gave up trying to enter the stadium as the chaos and crush of fans intensified. Ticket prices ranged from roughly $60 to nearly $700.

“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,” UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis said in the statement. “We value the input from the Liverpool FC supporter organizations Spirit of Shankly and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association as well as the open and transparent dialogue throughout this period.

“We recognize 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.”

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The report from the independent inquiry was at odds with initial claims by UEFA and French authorities, who blamed ticketless fans for the crush. The report concluded there was “no evidence” of that and “UEFA, as event owner, bears primary responsibility for failures.”

Other fans will also be eligible for a refund, provided they meet criteria UEFA outlined in its statement.

“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,” it said. “In addition, all fans who according to the access control data did not enter the stadium before 21:00 CEST (the originally scheduled kick-off time), or who were not able to enter the stadium at all, will be eligible for a refund. Finally, UEFA will offer refunds to all fans who purchased accessibility tickets along with those of their accompanying persons.”

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association, said in a statement that UEFA’s decision is “both unprecedented and hugely welcome, and builds concretely on the apology they extended to Liverpool fans earlier. Both Spirit of Shankly and the Liverpool Disabled Supporters’ Association deserve enormous credit for the way that they have pressed the case of Liverpool fans affected by the events in Paris.”

Spirit of Shankly and the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association welcomed the decision, but the groups said in a joint statement that it “does not excuse UEFA, exempt them from criticism or lessen the need for them to implement all of the recommendations made by the independent inquiry.”

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Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, a member of Portugal’s parliament and chair of the inquiry, said last month when the report was issued that the final “will be remembered as a moment of suffering for many fans but should also be a reminder of a situation we certainly do not want to witness again in the future at any sporting event in Europe or anywhere in the world.”

The report compared the Paris incident to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which policing mistakes produced a crush in which 97 people were killed at an English stadium, concluding, “The different outcomes were a matter of chance.” The report also raised concerns about security preparations for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris and called the Champions League incident a “wake-up call” for organizers, pointing to what it said was a “misconception about what actually happened and a complacency regarding what needs to change.”

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