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Sports minister: Government plan UEFA talks on Paris report

Sports minister Stuart Andrew told Parliament this week that the government will continue to lobby UEFA on the recommendations of the Paris report.

The report, published last month, into the chaos around the May 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Madrid found serious safety failings from UEFA and the French authorities.

The six-month investigation by the independent panel found numerous issues with access to Stade de France, delays, congestion, crushing, turnstile closures, brutal policing and criminal attacks by local groups at European football’s showpiece match, and said that safety failures came close to causing a disaster in which people could have been killed.

Merseyside MP Ian Byrne secured a debate in Parliament about the report this week, and asked the government for its views on the Paris report.

“We need to remember that this could have happened to any set of fans in Europe,” Byrne told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“Eight months since it was commissioned by the general secretary of UEFA, the report into what really happened at the UEFA Champions League final in Paris on 28th May has finally been published.

“To my eternal relief and to the relief of thousands of Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters who experienced the horror that evening, it is a world away from the UEFA-led cover-up that we saw on the evening of 28th May.

“The report places the blame correctly and firmly at the doorstep of those responsible for the game, which could have led to countless lives being lost.

“The report is clear: the fans bear no culpability. The investigation panel concludes that the “overarching organisational failures” by UEFA and the French authorities were at the root of what went so terribly wrong that evening.”

Responding on behalf of the government, sports minister Stuart Andrew said it was “vital that lessons are learnt.”

“Tribute must be paid to Liverpool supporters for their actions in Paris and their continued commitment to ensure action is taken,” Andrew told the House.

“It is clear that the mistakes that were made in organising the final were nearly disastrous.

“The expert panel concluded that the behaviour of Liverpool fans was a key reason that the mismanagement was not fatal. I commend their action and welcome the judgement of the report that the fans behaved faultlessly under extreme pressure and duress.

“Those supporters should never have been put into that position. It is vital that lessons are learnt from this near-disaster and that action is taken to prevent it from happening again.”

Since the publication of the report, UEFA said it is “analysing the findings of the review” and said it would “introduce appropriate changes and arrangements to ensure the highest level of safety for fans at future finals.”

UEFA has also met with supporter representatives from the FSA, Football Supporters Europe, Liverpool Disabled Supporters’ Association and Spirit of Shankly to discuss next steps. Additionally, UEFA said it will announce a special refund scheme for fans in the coming months.

Andrew said: “It is vital that UEFA continues that dialogue with supporter organisations and that an action plan is published as quickly as possible.

“The secretary of state will meet with the French sports minister in the coming weeks to discuss the French Government’s response to the independent review.”

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