An independent commission, who investigated the 2021/22 Champions League final crisis has blamed UEFA for the fracas.
Premier League giants Liverpool faced LaLiga giants Real Madrid in the final of the 2021/22 Champions League.
Unlike other finals, the kickoff was delayed for 30 minutes before the actual kickoff with footage showing some fans clashing with security operatives to have access to the Estadio de France.
While there were varying reports on what actually left to the delayed kickoff, Uefa maintained the fracas was caused by fans’ “late arrival,” especially by Liverpool fans.
However, reports from Liverpool fans seemed to contradict UEFA’s position. Many Liverpool fans said they had arrived early at Estadio de France long before the kickoff time, but were restrained by security operatives from entering the stadium.
Meanwhile, the gates of Estadio de France was reportedly opened at 18:00 local time, with fans asked to arrived early to forestall congestion and aid easy procession of traffic to the stadium.
Liverpool supporters arriving shortly after that time said already-large crowds were not moving through a ticket checkpoint and led to fans being crammed in underpasses outside the stadium.
The pandemonium was immediately communicated to the authorities, and a delay was announced with five minutes remaining to the kickoff of the match.
The match, which was expected to kickoff by 21:00 was postponed further to 21:15, and there were reports the condition at the gate was getting worse with security operatives forced to use pepper spray.
Things then went out of control with the pained crowd fleeing in different directions as the security operatives continue to clampdown on the crowd.
This led to a further postponement of the game from 21:15 to 21:36, when the match finally Kickoff.
Liverpool lost the Champions League final for the second time to Real Madrid, but after the game, the pre-match fracas at the Estadio de France gate dominated the headlines.
Accusations and counter-accusations were traded. France’s interior and sports ministers blamed Liverpool fans and local youths for the crisis, with the sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera saying Liverpool fans were “out in the wild.”
Oudea-Castera’s comment sparked an outrage in the Liverpool ranks. Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner demanded an immmediate apology from Oudea-Castera’s unguarded utterance.
Meanwhile, the security operatives pointed fingers on some “delinquents” for the crisis.
Following the blame games, an independent commission was mandated by the UEFA to carry out an investigation into the incident.
Now, a detailed report of the findings of the commission which was chaired by a Portuguese politician Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, has concluded that Uefa bears “primary responsibility” for the chaotic scenes that “almost led to disaster” at Estadio de France.
The report says there is “no evidence” to support the “reprehensible” claims that fans were the major cause of the fracas.
Also, “All the stakeholders interviewed by the panel have agreed that this situation was a near-miss: a term used when an event almost turns into a mass fatality catastrophe.”
While it said there was “contributory fault” from other bodies – particularly French police and the French Football Federation – the findings said European governing body Uefa was “at the wheel”.
“Uefa should have retained a monitoring and oversight role [of security], to ensure it all worked. It self-evidently did not,” the report added.
Other logistical problems which led to the crisis, as listed by the report includes large number of Liverpool fans being directed to the stadium’s train station, poor route to the train station, poor ticketing system, infiltration by large number of locals.
The Champions League final report further absolves Liverpool fans of any hand in the crisis as previously put forward by the French minister and French Football Federation.