Klopp critical of Champions League final organisation
French government officials initially tried to blame Liverpool fans for causing disruption before May’s Champions League Final in Paris, then backtracked on their story.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has criticised the organisation of the Champions League final in May at the Stade de France. Kick-off in the European showpiece at France’s national stadium was twice delayed for what UEFA initially described as “security reasons” outside the ground due to ‘crowd congestion’.
The match started 36 minutes late, with Real Madrid eventually triumphing 1-0 over Klopp’s men thanks to a second-half goal from Vinicius Junior.
‘Ticketless fans’ claim not credible
Initially, France’s government insisted that between 30,000 and 40,000 fans had arrived without valid tickets, causing the delay, but this claim was questioned by the French senate in the days following the final. Pepper spray and tear gas was used against supporters waiting to enter the stadium, and Madrid also called for explanations regarding the security breakdown, with reports suggesting their supporters were pickpocketed and assaulted outside the venue.
Speaking to ESPN ahead of Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly against Manchester United in Bangkok as part of their preparations for the 2022-23 campaign, Klopp urged the authorities to learn lessons from the experience. A French senate report into what happened is due to be released later this week, while UEFA have commissioned an independent inquiry to be led by Portuguese politician Dr Tiago Brandão Rodrigues.
“A lot of people have had to take back what they said before,” Klopp said. “Our people are behind it [the inquiry] and want to make sure that we really get the full truth in the end. That will be really important for the future because people shouldn’t be afraid of going to a Champions League final. In their minds, it should just be excitement and joy, looking forward to it. Not ‘how can I get into the stadium?’ That shouldn’t be part of the preparation. We can’t change it for this day anymore, but we can change it for all other days. It was a special situation because it was rather late that Paris knew it would host the final, but I think there was enough time. Saint-Denis, the stadium, they have a lot of events. It could have been better and they know it.”
UEFA issues apology to fans
UEFA issued a formal apology to spectators in the days after the final, and Klopp said what he was being told by the families of Liverpool’s players and staff differed greatly from what was being alleged to have happened by the authorities.
“I think we are getting closer [to knowing what happened],” he added. “In the first week or so, when I was on holiday, the distance between what happened and what was delivered was quite big. You think, ‘Ok, because we were not outside, we didn’t know’, but we got information first-hand because our families were and they had to go exactly through that path. The owners had to go through this. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you listen to the people who know and they will tell you the truth. I know the truth, I know what happened. Why it happened? I think you can have a sense that it definitely was not perfectly organised. It’s definitely true as well that we were all lucky that nothing else happened because when you have a situation like this, everything, anything can pretty much happen. That’s the positive outcome of it, but apart from that, when you speak of the Champions League final that day, it should be ‘how did we lose the game?’ But nobody speaks about that. It is all about the circumstances around it. Yes, it might take time, but it’s important that it is clarified.”