Real Madrid reject UEFA compensation offer for Champions League final fiasco
Real Madrid slammed UEFA’s handling of last year’s final in Saint-Denis and says the reimbursement it has offered fans is not enough.
Real Madrid issued a statement this afternoon to express their unhappiness at the shambolic planning and organisation of last year’s Champions League final and their disappointment at UEFA’s reponse to the results of a four-month independent inquiry about the failings in Paris. The report concluded that UEFA, as the event owners, bore “primary responsibility” for numerous safety failures “which almost led to disaster” in the hours leading up to the final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Saint-Denis on 28 May 2022. Kick-off was delayed by more than half an hour while hundreds of Liverpool fans were stranded outside the stadium and unable to enter. UEFA officials tried to shift the blame for the chaos onto English fans by suggesting that thousands of supporters had turned up to the ground with false tickets - smear tactics which the report found to without foundation, false and a “crass error of judgment”. It added that UEFA officials were fully aware that safety and security measures had failed but did nothing to resolve the situation.
“UEFA’s lack of oversight upon delegation of private safety and security matters, deference of all such matters in the public space to policing authorities, and simply not following its own safety, security and service requirements, was a recipe for the failures which occurred,” the report read. “The panel concludes that assertions regarding huge numbers of ticketless supporters, and those with fake tickets, have been wrongly inflated and have been stated as fact, to deflect responsibility for the planning and operational failures of stakeholders. This is reprehensible and has involved UEFA, UEFA Events SA, the French Football Federation, the Préfecture de Police, government officials and French ministers.”
On Tuesday, UEFA confirmed that it will refund Liverpool fans who held tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z, who experienced the most difficulty in getting into the ground, with many, including the elderly and children, being pepper sprayed by heavy-handed French police.
Real Madrid however, state that their fans also suffered as a consequence of the chaotic organisational and safety failures on the night for which, “UEFA is directly responsible”. The Spanish club
As far as Madrid are concerned both sets of fans were victims that evening. In statement, the club stated that, “The report holds UEFA responsible for the arbitrary choice of location and for the organisation of the final. Its serious shortcomings put the safety and physical integrity of the fans who attended the match at risk. Many of them were victims of ticket theft and the theft of personal belongings such as bags, phones and wallets. And more seriously, some of these fans were subjected to physical assaults that required medical attention and admission to hospital.
“Given the conclusiveness of the experts’ findings and the seriousness of the events described, Real Madrid has been holding talks with UEFA with the aim of assessing the compensation that will be offered to the fans. Our club was entirely confident that these solutions would be in line with the seriousness of the events, the extent of the damage caused and UEFA’s responsibility for them.
“Regrettably, our club believes that UEFA’s proposal, officially announced last Tuesday, is insufficient. It merely consists of the reimbursement of the ticket price, which is also subject to the fulfilment of a series of requirements, including providing proof of the time of access to the stadium.
“The content of the report, which was commissioned by UEFA itself, stresses that all fans attending the final were victims of its inadequate organisation and their safety and security were compromised. Therefore, irrespective of whether or not they were able to enter the stadium, or whether they did so at the expected time, which at any rate was due to the exceptionally good behaviour of the fans of the two clubs, the fact is that all the fans experienced an unacceptable delay in the start of the match. In addition, there was unacceptable insecurity both in accessing and leaving the stadium, as well as additional harm such as theft, assaults and threats. For this reason, Real Madrid has decided not to cooperate in the restricted compensation procedure proposed by UEFA, which we ask to redress the situation and assume its full responsibility. In these circumstances, an online assistance service will be made available in the next few days to enable all Real Madrid members and fans who experienced any kind of harm at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris to make the appropriate claims against UEFA for their personal and legitimate interests. The club will announce the details of this assistance service in the coming days”.
What has UEFA offered?
Refunds to fans with access through gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z (where, according to UEFA; the biggest delays were experienced), to all fans who could not enter the stadium before 9:00 p.m. (which must be demonstrated with turnstile records; or who directly did not manage to enter) and those with companions in such situations. In other words, UEFA guaranteed reimbursement to all 19,618 Liverpool fans, because they all meet one of these requirements... but not Madrid fans. Because Madrid fans, on the whole, are exempt from these three criteria (according to UEFA’s statement).
On 13 February, an independent report was published, in agreement with UEFA - under pressure to demonstrate its “commitment to justice” - to clarify what happened. The result: a 220-page document which harshly criticised Paris police officers (for not ensuring security in the surrounding area and for worsening the situation with the use of weapons and anti-disturbance gas) and UEFA itself (“the maximum responsibility”). UEFA pointed out that it delegated the security of the surrounding areas to Paris police - but delegating a function does not exempt them from their supervision. If the police manhandled the situation, UEFA should have been ‘attentive’ to take action on the matter in situ .
The report makes it very clear that all travelling fans were victims of a nefarious organization. And this is what Real Madrid point out - that everyone, regardless of the team they were following, their entry points and time of access, has the right to fair compensation.
What happens now?
Real Madrid will set up their own assistance service so that fans who have suffered damages of any kind can assess the appropriate claims against UEFA, in defense of their legitimate personal interests. The club will communicate the details of the assistance service in the coming days...