Fans at the Champions League final were “mistreated and wronged” and the Government must establish the facts of a “chaotic, scary and atrociously managed” event in Paris, MPs have been told.
Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell on Monday demanded further pressure was put on UEFA and the French government after the concerning scenes which accompanied Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid on May 28 at the Stade de France, where supporters were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed.
“British supporters have been mistreated and wronged. It is up to the Government to establish the facts and ensure lessons are learned,” Powell, who described the final as “chaotic, scary and atrociously managed”, told the House of Commons.
“Has the minister established why UEFA got things so wrong and why it took them until Friday to apologise?”
“Questions also remain over UEFA’s independent review as the chair (Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues) is a close friend of the president (Aleksander Ceferin).
“Can the minister ensure it gets to the truth and holds those responsible to account?
“What happened in Paris reminds us once again that justice and lessons learned from Hillsborough (97 Liverpool fans died following 1989 disaster) still haven’t happened.”
European football’s governing body has apologised to supporters who had to “experience or witness frightening and distressing events” but stopped short of saying sorry or taking responsibility for the lack of organisation.
The PA news agency understands Liverpool, who are keen to get assurances over the structure of and process of UEFA’s independent report, have yet to receive answers to any of the 13 questions they posed to the governing body on Thursday.
Reports have emerged regarding the suitability of some of UEFA’s security staff and the club want that aspect to form part of the report.
The club have also been in constant dialogue with supporters’ trust Spirit of Shankly since the final and are arranging a more formal meeting later this week for further discussions.
Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, who tabled the urgent question in the Commons, paid tribute to fans for their behaviour.
“I was there in Paris, I was also there at Hillsborough in 1989, and I can say without any shadow of a doubt that if it was not for the magnificent efforts of the Liverpool supporters last Saturday, we could have had a disaster worse than Hillsborough,” said the Labour MP, who called for the French government and UEFA to “retract the attempts to smear” fans.
“I witnessed first hand the shambolic stadium-management and the most hostile policing environment at a sporting event I have ever witnessed.
“We were treated like animals for wanting to watch a game of football and then, shamefully, the smears and lies straight from the Hillsborough playbook were used by the authorities to avoid accountability of the horrific events.”
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has pledged to raise concerns with his French counterpart this week.
“There were clearly some logistical challenges that require explanation but we’ve not seen any clear justification from UEFA or the French authorities for the scenes on the ground,” he said.
“The French minister for sport has also commissioned a review of the delivery of the event and I will be discussing this with her later this week.
“Thousands of Liverpool fans travelled to Paris in good time to support their team in one of the biggest matches of the season and we’re hugely disappointed by how they were treated.”
France is due to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the Olympic Games the following year but Powell questioned their suitability to stage big events.
“Does the minister agree with me that the French authorities’ handling of the final puts in doubt their ability to host such events in the future?” she said.