UEFA settles civil claim with Liverpool fans over Champions League final chaos

AFP , Friday 22 Mar 2024

A civil legal claim involving Liverpool supporters who suffered physical and mental injury at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris has been settled, European football governing body UEFA announced on Friday.

UEFA Champions League
European football governing body UEFA has settled a civil legal claim involving Liverpool supporters who suffered physical and mental injuries at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris. Photo: AFP


UEFA added a "full and final settlement" had been agreed with fans represented by two sets of lawyers, in Liverpool firm Bingham Long and the London-based Pogust Goodhead, who had made personal injury claims.

Football chiefs said the settlement details would remain confidential.

Last year, an independent report found UEFA bore "primary responsibility" for the failures which almost led to European club football's showpiece match becoming a "mass fatality catastrophe".

Severe congestion outside the Stade de France in Paris led to thousands of Liverpool supporters being hemmed in against perimeter fences and stuck in a motorway underpass ahead of the final, which they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid.

Fans, who had already been targeted by local youths trying to steal tickets, were then tear-gassed and pepper sprayed by police, with kick-off delayed by more than 30 minutes.

"UEFA has already taken a number of steps following the 2022 final, including implementing recommendations from the independent review and establishing a special refund scheme," their statement issued Friday said.

"The parties have agreed the terms of this statement but that the terms of the settlement will otherwise remain confidential," added the statement, which also said an agreement officials hoped would provide "closure" had been reached "without any admission of liability".

Matt Douglas, a Liverpool fan who was involved, said in an article published by the two law firms: "I was next to a waist-high security divide which was about to fall over with the waves of pressure, and eventually I had to climb it rather than fall over it.

"I still got injured. I broke my rib and have since been signed off work with it.

"Once we entered the ground, it got no better, we were hit with the aftermath of tear gas, and our eyes were stinging."

Douglas, who said he had suffered PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), was scathing in his assessment of European football authorities.

"UEFA owed a duty of care to the fans, and they failed in that duty," he said.

For many Liverpool fans the scenes revived memories of a crush at Hillsborough before and during the abandoned 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest that resulted in the deaths of 97 supporters.

The independent report also said it was "troubled" by the authorities' attempts to blame Liverpool fans without tickets for the chaos "without any evidential basis".

"Assertions that late, ticketless supporters were either the primary cause or contributed to the dangerous events have a particular resonance with Hillsborough, where similar allegations were made... and persisted for decades before being comprehensively disproved," the report explained.

Gerard Long, managing director of Bingham Long, said Friday: "As a local firm, it was important for us to be able to report back to (fans) that we had resolved the matter without lengthy legal proceedings, and they will receive some compensation."

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