IAN LADYMAN: UEFA’s contempt for fans must end after Champions League final chaos pardon ends

IAN LADYMAN: UEFA’s contempt for fans must end NOW after finally apologizing for the final chaos of the Champions League … after days of denial and dishonest accusations, the demise must stop here.

  • UEFA has issued an apology to Liverpool and Real Madrid fans after last week’s chaos
  • After days of denial, they were back in the corner, which they could not escape
  • Football’s relationship with its customer base has been extraordinary for some time
  • The dollar passing UEFA must stop seeing contempt for what it really is

When the first words of repentance, responsibility and regret were finally communicated by UEFA shortly before tea time yesterday, they were accompanied by a set of promises.

In the space of a few paragraphs there were almost all the appropriate verbs they could put together. UEFA – they say – will identify, understand, determine, establish, examine, evaluate and engage.

After six days of denial, blurring and dishonest accusation, UEFA has finally come to the conclusion that they – for the sheer weight of evidence – have been kept in the corner of which there was no way out.

UEFA “sincerely” apologizes to all fans affected by the chaotic events last weekend

Their apology came after days of denial and accusations - they must stop passing

Their apology came after days of denial and accusations – they must stop passing

But as they move forward now and as far as their investigation goes, something fundamental and essential must change immediately. It is much more important than any printed promise contained in an 18 o’clock press release. It’s more meaningful than words on a yellow “news story” typewriter on Sky Sports News.

It is the fixed and openly offensive assumption that when things go wrong at a football match, it must be the supporters who are to blame.

It was this useless assumption that led UEFA to announce before the start in Paris last Saturday night that the Champions League final will be postponed due to late supporters.

It was this that prompted the French authorities and police to blame the chaotic, dangerous scenes outside the Stade de France on supporters arriving with fake tickets. Exactly this, before midnight, Liverpool supporters were tried and convicted on social media after being channeled into a spring nightmare that was absolutely not theirs.

The European football board has announced that it has launched an independent review of the events that took place outside the Stade de France before and after the match.

The European football board has announced that it has launched an independent review of the events that took place outside the Stade de France before and after the match.

That’s why UEFA took so long to do what’s right and honest this week. This is why the French continue to dig in their heels.

Football’s opinion of its own customers – its own blood of life – has been so contemptuously low for so long that it has been at the heart of everything we’ve seen, heard and read in recent days.

To those of us who were there, it was very obvious that something was not quite right until three hours before the start. Even then, just before 6 p.m., it was impossible not to detect the feeling of blurry chaos at the perimeter that had been set up to serve as the first ticket checkpoint.

For those of us who were there, it was very obvious that something was not quite right until three hours before the start.

For those of us who were there, it was very obvious that something was not quite right until three hours before the start.

There was not enough room for everyone, even at that time. The stewards and policemen seemed nervous and agitated. There was pushing and pushing and that critical feeling, a crowd that was constantly growing with every minute, was already far from out of control. And that was the 18th.

What happened next before launch was clear to those who were there. It is there on cell phone footage of those who have suffered and it is there in the spoken testimonies.

It’s on CCTV camera reels and it will be there, somewhere, buried deep in the consciousness of the police officers who chose pepper spray over compassion and then turned their backs when families were attacked by local criminals on their way home.

The contempt for fans is clear to see now.  Football has been out of touch with its customer base for quite some time

The contempt for fans is clear to see now. Football has been out of touch with its customer base for quite some time

And this is the real shame of all this. It’s not even that UEFA and the French were so incompetent as to allow this to happen during their watch. No, it’s that when it did, their first instinct was not to reach out but to bow down, protect themselves, and seek to pass the blame on to those whom this great sport is meant to serve in the first place.

It’s one thing to fail in a careful duty and quite another to try to hand over the money to the innocent when you do.

Football’s relationship with its customer base has been very extraordinary for some time. Now, finally, we can see that level of that contempt for what it really is.

It needs to change and it needs to change now.

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