UEFA compensates Liverpool fans for chaotic Champions League final in Paris

GENEVA (AP) — UEFA has reached a confidential settlement to compensate Liverpool fans for personal injury claims from the dangerous chaos at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris.

The security failures at Stade de France before Liverpool played Real Madrid were a near “mass fatality catastrophe” that UEFA had primary responsibility for, an investigation team appointed by the soccer body concluded last year.

Police held thousands of fans in crushed queues before the game and used tear gas outside the stadium. Dozens were robbed outside the stadium after the game by local residents.

UEFA said on Friday it made a “full and final settlement” with fans represented by two law firms in Liverpool “in relation to the difficulties and challenges that they were confronted with.”

“The settlement agreement has been made without any admission of liability,” UEFA added in a statement.

A failed security operation involving French police and local authorities saw tens of thousands of fans held in poorly organized queues for hours before the game at the 75,000-capacity stadium that is a key venue for the Paris Olympics.

Many fans were fired on with tear gas by police and the final was delayed for nearly 40 minutes. Inside the stadium, UEFA broadcast a message blaming late-arriving fans in part for the delay.

Falsely blaming Liverpool fans for arriving late was hugely insensitive, as the same excuse was used by police and authorities in England to evade responsibility for the Hillsborough stadium tragedy in 1989 that killed 97 people in a crush. Liverpool fans campaigned against the injustice for decades.

After Real Madrid’s 1-0 win in Paris, dozens of fans were robbed leaving the stadium by local residents in the Saint-Denis neighborhood.

The law firms in Liverpool, Pogust Goodhead and Bingham Long, said UEFA’s offer of compensation “has been accepted and the supporters welcome this.”

“Following constructive discussions, UEFA has offered our clients compensation in respect of the difficulties and challenges they were confronted with at the game,” the legal firms said, adding they would not take fees from the compensation paid.

It was unclear on Friday if any legal claims by Real Madrid fans continue.

The Spanish club said last year it rejected UEFA’s offer of ticket price refunds and offered help to fans pursuing legal action.

The Champions League final is the most prestigious game in global club soccer and the title game in May 2022 was due to be hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia. UEFA took the game away from Russia one day after the military invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron personally intervened with UEFA to offer Paris as an alternative venue at just three months’ notice.

French police were blamed in the UEFA-commissioned investigation for wrongly assuming Liverpool fans posed a threat to public order, and for using “weaponry” like tear gas and pepper spray. The head of the Paris police operation at the game retired about six weeks later.

UEFA senior management was blamed for poor oversight of the delegation for security planning.

The Paris chaos followed major security failures at UEFA’s showpiece men’s national team game, the European Championship final at Wembley Stadium in London in July 2021, and criticism from fans of organizing operations at the 2022 Europa League final, played between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers in Seville, Spain.

UEFA last year acted on recommendations by the investigation panel to improve planning for its cup finals.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer

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