MANCHESTER, England (AP) — UEFA will refund Liverpool fans who bought tickets for last season’s Champions League final, an event which led to crushes outside the Stade de France and innocent supporters being doused with pepper spray and tear gas.
The governing body of European soccer said Tuesday that a scheme has been set up to reimburse all 19,618 tickets purchased by Liverpool fans for the match against Real Madrid last May. The Spanish club won 1-0.
An independent review published last month found UEFA mostly responsible for the security failures which “almost led to disaster.”
“It is remarkable that no one lost their life,” the investigation panel wrote in a 220-page document.
Refunds will also be paid out to Real Madrid supporters and neutral fans who meet certain criteria set out by UEFA.
“We have taken into account a huge number of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have devised a scheme that is comprehensive and fair,” UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis said. “We recognize the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and with this scheme we will refund fans who had bought tickets and who were the most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium.”
Tens of thousands of fans were held in increasingly crushed queues for hours before the game on May 28 at the 75,000-capacity Stade de France, which is a key venue for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Many fans were fired on with tear gas by police before the game, which was delayed by nearly 40 minutes.
UEFA statements during the chaos and after the game wrongly blamed Liverpool fans for arriving at the stadium late and using fake tickets to try to gain entry.
After Madrid’s victory, dozens of fans were robbed leaving the stadium by local residents.
An apology to Liverpool supporters for “the experiences of many of them” and the unjust blaming was made last month by Theodoridis.
Fan group Football Supporters Europe praised to the decision to hand out refunds.
“UEFA’s announcement of the ticket refunds is both unprecedented and hugely welcome, and builds concretely on the apology they extended to Liverpool fans earlier,” FSE board member Kevin Miles said. “Every football fan who has traveled to support a team abroad will know that, while it may have been Liverpool fans who suffered last year, these events or something similar could have happened to any of us.”
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
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