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Police officers guard the Stade de France prior to the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, in Saint Denis near Paris, last May. UEFA-appointed investigators have held European soccer's ruling body mostly responsible for chaotic security failures that put the lives of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans at risk, the investigation panel wrote in a 220-page document. Image Credit: AP

Liverpool: A review into the chaos before the 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid has said organisers UEFA were responsible for the events which unfolded including a “large number of near misses that nearly led to disaster”.

European soccer governing body UEFA apologised to Liverpool for initially blaming the Merseyside club’s fans for the mayhem following the release of an independent review on Monday.

The final was delayed by 36 minutes after thousands of Liverpool supporters were unable to get into the Stade de France for the match on May 28, which Real won 1-0, while French police were filmed using tear gas on fans including women and children.

Ticket fraud

UEFA and French authorities at the time blamed the chaos on ticket fraud, although the review said there was no evidence to support such claims.

The final “will be remembered as a moment of suffering for many fans but should also be a reminder of a situation we certainly do not want to witness again in the future at any sporting event in Europe or anywhere in the world,” said Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, a member of Portugal’s parliament, who chaired the investigation.

“Avoiding future disasters and improving the service provided at football events was the aim of the Panel’s work during this process,” he added in the 220-page review, which had a panel including legal, policing and event-management consultants as well as representatives from fan groups.

Future safety

UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis said the soccer body “would like to apologise most sincerely once again to all those who were affected by the events that unfolded on what should have been a celebration at the pinnacle of the club season.”

He added: “In particular, I would like to apologise to the supporters of Liverpool FC for the experiences many of them had when attending the game and for the messages released prior to and during the game which had the effect of unjustly blaming them for the situation leading to the delayed kick-off.” Liverpool said they were disappointed that they had not received a copy of the report before it surfaced in several British media outlets hours before it was officially released.

“It’s hugely disappointing that a report of such significance, such importance to football supporters’ lives and future safety, should be leaked and published in this way,” the Merseyside club said in a statement .

“It’s been over eight months of work by the independent panel and it is only right and proper to publish the contents of the report to our supporters appropriately.”