Incidents on the sidelines of the Champions League final, which was staged at the Stade de France on May 28, 2022, continue to make waves nearly nine months later. An independent investigation produced a vitriolic report on Monday February 13, pointing the finger at UEFA's "primary responsibility" as well as the French police and their "misconceptions" about British fans.
The European body, organizer of the final of the queen event of the Old Continent, "bears the primary responsibility for the failures which almost led to disaster" last May at the Stade de France, concluded on Monday a group of experts in its report, to the point that UEFA reiterated its apologies in the process.
The report also pinpoints the police headquarters and the French Football Federation (FFF), to which UEFA had delegated certain organizational aspects after the withdrawal of the match in Saint Petersburg, due to the Russian invasion of the city. Ukraine, and its urgent reattribution to France.
“Even if it were reasonable to delegate security matters to others, primarily the FFF and to refer to […] the police headquarters for law enforcement matters, it does not follow that UEFA be absolved of its responsibility. UEFA played a central role in the organization of the event and should have monitored, supervised and contributed to the security measures,” the experts argue.
"The other stakeholders made mistakes which contributed (to the incidents), but UEFA was in the driving seat" in this Liverpool-Real Madrid final, they insist, criticizing the insufficient coordination between all stakeholders.
The European confederation immediately reiterated its "apologies" to the supporters, promising to take into account the numerous recommendations made by the experts and to introduce "the appropriate changes".
The FFF is criticized by experts for its "key role" in the organization of the event, as the host federation. The report mentions "communication failures" in connection with the police headquarters on the issue of transport, which quickly caused bottlenecks when supporters arrived. “These flaws should not have happened. And when they were detected, the FFF should have made them a priority, ”point out the experts.
The independent report finally castigates the poor reaction of the French security forces, arguing that the police's use of tear gas and pepper spray had "no place in a football party".
Experts in the report, led by Portugal's former education, youth and sports minister, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, said they were "flabbergasted" that the match's policing pattern could have been influenced. by the image of Liverpool supporters as hooligans, an "inexplicable misconception".
“The security approach […] was based, inappropriately, on the assumption that Liverpool supporters could pose a significant threat to public order,” they further note. Contacted by AFP, the Ministry of the Interior did not comment.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had initially incriminated the British supporters with the many falsified tickets according to him, before the prefect Didier Lallement admitted to having "perhaps been mistaken" on their number, acknowledging a "failure".
Independent experts commissioned by UEFA for their part concluded on Monday that there was "no evidence of an abnormally large number of fans without tickets or with invalid tickets", castigating the figures of the authorities, "falsely inflated and exaggerated", and suggesting that this exaggeration may have been intended to "deflect responsibility for operational failures".
A government report, for its part, had also pointed to police and organizational dysfunctions, at the end of this episode which damaged the image of France in the run-up to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.