Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has demanded an apology from France’s sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera for the treatment of Liverpool fans at Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.
In a leaked letter sent to the minister on Monday, Werner, who owns Liverpool and is part of the US-based Fenway Sports Group, claimed he was left in “total amazement” by her statements about the pandemonium.
“I am writing to you today out of utter disbelief that a minister of the French government… could make a series of unproven pronouncements on a matter of such significance before a proper, formal, independent investigation process has even taken place,” Werner wrote in his letter, leaked to the local Liverpool Echo newspaper.
“Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally,” the Boston-based chairman added.
“On behalf of all the fans who experienced this nightmare I demand an apology from you, and assurance that the French Authorities and UEFA allow an independent and transparent investigation to proceed.”
Initially, Oudea-Castera blamed Liverpool for the chaos, telling a French radio station that the club had failed to adequately organize its supporters who traveled to Paris.
The French government has also stated that “huge” ticket fraud played a role in the turbulent scenes that accompanied Real Madrid’s encounter.
The photos have tainted Paris’ image, increasing concerns about the city’s capacity to host major sporting events as it prepares for the 2024 Olympics and the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
On Monday, UEFA, the governing body of European football, announced the launch of an “independent report” into the final’s difficulties, which will “review decision-making, responsibility, and behaviors of all organizations concerned.”
The organization claimed it has engaged Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, a Portuguese politician, to review the study on a pro gratis basis, after which they will decide on a course of action.
Liverpool is inviting fans who attended the game to fill out a feedback form in order to help with the inquiry, according to the club’s website.
Fans have provided numerous first-hand reports of the turmoil, which unavoidably evoked bitter memories of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which police crowd control failures resulted in the deaths of 97 people in a stadium crush.
Then, as at the weekend, authorities initially blamed ticketless fans, but after a lengthy court battle, they were exonerated.
Werner wrote in his letter that the events in Paris were “very risky for those who were present” and warned against “a blame game approach via press conference.”
“I have received countless emails from Liverpool supporters who were frightened to death, and subject to police harassment, pepper spray and tear gas,” he added.