Friday, March 31, 2023

Klopp urges UEFA to learn from Champions League final chaos

SoccerNews in English Premier League 15 Feb 2023


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged those responsible to learn from their mistakes after the findings from an independent review into organisational issues at last season’s Champions League final were revealed earlier this week.

The showpiece clash last May between Liverpool and Real Madrid – which the latter won 1-0 – was twice delayed before kick-off at the Stade de France, with fans unable to enter the ground and tear-gassed by police.

UEFA initially blamed Liverpool fans attempting entry with “fake tickets” before an independent review, commissioned by European football’s governing body, said it was in fact the organisers who had been responsible.

The report released on Monday apportioned “primary responsibility” to UEFA, while also criticising the actions of the French Football Federation and local police authorities.

Liverpool have demanded action from UEFA following what the report described as a “near-miss”, while club captain Jordan Henderson said it must be a “turning point” for the treatment of fans.

“I think it’s super-important that, finally, it’s official, let me say it like this,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website. “I’m not sure, at least in my life, there was never a case with more evidence, where I knew more about [it] when I was not directly involved, because I was on the other side of the wall in the stadium, pretty much.

“But families, friends, they were all there and everybody knew how our supporters behaved, but it really feels good, it feels just right that it’s now official and everybody knows it now because there were so many things said after the game, which we knew they were wrong. It was just lies. So, I’m really happy that it’s finally said officially.”

The report outlined 21 recommendations for avoiding similar incidents in future, including for safety and security to be at the forefront of planning and matches to be managed with a “facilitation and service” approach towards supporters, rather than viewing them as a public order problem.

“There were big mistakes made,” Klopp added. “That they had to change the venue a few months before [from Saint Petersburg to Paris due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine]… I understand and that’s difficult. But to put it into a stadium which is not used regularly, so just for some big events and stuff like this and not all the time.

“So, as an example, I’m German and this is why I say it, but as an example if you used Berlin – a big city, enough hotels, is used to having every two weeks big events with 70,000 people in the stadium and stuff like that, it would have been exactly the same, but the supporters wouldn’t have been from Germany, but from Spain and England [and] that would be the only difference.

“.Big events are organised so often and when you are under pressure, you have time pressure, you still have to make the right decisions and that’s [a] responsibility for specific people. And so yes, I hope they listen, I hope they learn.”

The report also said that deaths being avoided was only “a matter of chance,” and mainly down to the behaviour of fans.

“I think we were really lucky that not more happened,” Klopp said. “It was a day of, I’m not sure how you say it, but the day of ‘goodwill lies’ – when you have to lie to protect the other person.

“Because we all had messages from our people outside before the game and then the game got delayed, so we started looking at the smartphone again, ‘What’s happening?’ We knew because people couldn’t get in and everybody said, ‘No, I’m fine, I’m fine…’ and nobody was fine. Nobody was fine.

“Then the game started and I heard from people that everybody who was in the stadium was just there and thought, ‘I made it somehow, wow.’ It was not the mood you are in when you want to watch a Champions League final.

“So what it all took away and the strangest thing is that after the game, like an hour after the game, the least important information on that night was that we lost the final. That’s really crazy. And that shows just how it all went.”

Ultimately, Klopp just wants lessons to be learned, adding: “When you hear it [for the] first time, you cannot believe it, that that all happened in that time, but it did.

“So, yes, there’s a lot to improve and I hope everybody learned from it.”


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