14 February 2023

UEFA chief must accept responsibility for Paris chaos, claims law firm

14 February 2023

A law firm representing Liverpool fans caught up in the chaos at last season’s Champions League final says UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin must personally accept responsibility for what went wrong.

An independent report into the events in Paris last May was published on Monday evening.

It found UEFA bore “primary responsibility for failures” which almost led to the final against Real Madrid becoming a “mass fatality catastrophe”.

Law firm Pogust Goodhead, along with Liverpool firm Binghams, is representing more than 2,000 supporters in a group litigation.

They will be writing a letter to UEFA this week to invite it to accept responsibility and discuss how it proposes to compensate Liverpool fans for the trauma they have suffered. A detailed letter of claim will also be sent to UEFA by the end of the month.

Winterburn, a partner at Pogust Goodhead, said it was vital now that UEFA’s president stepped up and spoke out.

“This is a hugely damning report for UEFA which clearly strengthens the case we are bringing on behalf of Liverpool fans,” Winterburn said.

An apology is a start, but it simply does not go far enough.

“We are calling on UEFA and in particular its president Aleksander Ceferin personally, to do the right thing and publicly accept responsibility. There must be compensation for all those fans affected by this horrific event.

“It is clear UEFA’s safety plan was written around a myth that Liverpool fans were going to cause trouble that day and it is imperative that myth stops now to avoid further unacceptable incidents occurring in the future, with possibly tragic consequences.”

UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis issued an apology on behalf of European football’s governing body on Monday evening, but Winterburn insists the confederation must go further.

“An apology is a start, but it simply does not go far enough,” he added.

“We want our clients, alongside all other fans, who have been proven to be blameless, to be compensated for the psychological and physical trauma they experienced on that day, and for the subsequent trauma they experienced after the event when authorities continued to place blame at their door despite knowing this was untrue.

“Recommendations which were previously made in 2015 about safety at the arena and subsequently made again, now eight years on, must be implemented in full as a matter of urgency. These changes are vital if football fans are to feel safe at future events.”

Another firm, Leigh Day, said it would be sending a letter of claim to UEFA on behalf of more than 600 fans it is representing within the next two weeks.

“It is promising to hear UEFA are considering a special refund scheme, but it’s important to understand that what is required here is more than a ticket refund,” Leigh Day partners Clare Campbell and Jill Paterson said in a statement.

“This is about accountability, learning lessons for the future and ensuring that fans who have been injured and traumatised receive proper compensation for what they’ve endured.”

Liverpool fan Andrew Patterson, who is a client of the firm and a type one diabetic, said: “From about two and a half hours before the game I was in a really dangerous position because I had no insulin.

“Then, when I was going through the gate, I was pushed against the fence which ripped the sensor off my arm that monitors my blood sugars. I started panicking because now I had no way of monitoring my sugars and no medication. I wasn’t able to get replacement insulin until 3am the next day which meant I was without medication for around eight hours.

“UEFA didn’t just ruin the day, for a lot of people, they ruined lives. To say they dealt with it poorly is an understatement. It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.”

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