Thursday , July 7 2022

‘Irresponsible’: Liverpool want apology for minister’s comments on Paris chaos | Champions League

Liverpool have demanded an apology from the French interior minister for blaming counterfeit ticket sales on an “industrial scale” for the chaos at the Champions League final on Saturday and are reviewing legal options open to fans affected by the authorities’ woeful organisation.

Billy Hogan, the Liverpool chief executive, has described Gérald Darmanin’s claim that 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans turned up at Stade de France either without tickets or with counterfeits as irresponsible, inflammatory and an attempt to shift blame. Tom Werner, the Liverpool chairman, has written to Darmanin demanding an apology. Werner’s letter states: “Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally.”

Liverpool have asked fans to share their experiences via the club website as they gather information for any investigations into the chaotic scenes. Hogan, who played a key role in getting Uefa to delay kick-off on Saturday, has confirmed Liverpool are exploring legal avenues available to fans, many of whom were teargassed by French police, and had no input into a meeting between Uefa and the French authorities on Monday.

Hogan said: “We have followed up on our request for an independent investigation with Uefa in writing. We’ve also noted our deep concern about the false information that’s being circulated, while urging Uefa to agree to an open and transparent investigation into everything that happened on Saturday night, and we will continue to push for this.”

On Monday night Uefa announced it had commissioned an independent report into events, which it said would “examine decision-making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final”.

Hogan continued: “I’ve also read this afternoon in the media that there was a meeting this morning with French authorities and Uefa and a number of other stakeholders; however, we were not asked for our input or to submit any information ahead of the meeting. We are also reviewing legal avenues available to us on behalf of affected supporters.”

The French interior minister plus sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra held a press conference following Monday’s meeting where they blamed Liverpool fans and the club itself for dangerous scenes. Oudéa-Castéra accused Liverpool of letting fans “out in the wild”.

Hogan responded: “We are incredibly surprised that someone in that position would make comments in the first place at this point, when we haven’t had adequate time to understand what happened. There hasn’t been an independent investigation to establish all the facts. That’s the start of the process. Making comments as deeply unhelpful as that, we just feel that everyone should be focused on getting the investigation right and less about making inflammatory comments that attempt to deflect responsibility for what happened on Saturday night.

“What I would say is that our fans were provided the Uefa information to travel to the stadium safely, which they did; they approached the stadium as directed and in good time. However, it was on arrival at the stadium when they experienced the issues. In regard to the comments, we were in complete disbelief when we were made aware of them earlier today. I think it’s important that folks know that our chairman, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister to articulate our views and is calling for an apology to our fans for those comments.”

Liverpool’s CEO described the scenes outside Stade de France as “absolutely disgraceful” and challenged the interior minister’s figures. Hogan added: “40,000 people was the number I heard that were at the stadium without tickets – how can that be quantified at this stage, before we’ve had an independent and transparent investigation?

“There’s also been quotes about people with fake tickets; but, again, how do we know all the facts until we’ve had an investigation? One fact we do know is the Champions League final should be one of the finest spectacles in football and it resulted in one of the worst experiences of many supporters’ lives. So, I would say that all politicians and agencies involved in this event need to wait until a full and independent investigation is concluded before attempting to shift blame.”

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