A statement blaming kickoff delays at the 2022 Champions League final on the “late arrival of fans” was pre-prepared by UEFA before the day of the game.
The final at the Stade de France on May 28 is now more widely known not for the football on the pitch but the chaos outside of the stadium.
Thousands of Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters were kettled through dangerous walkways, held outside entrances and eventually tear-gassed by police and targeted by local gangs.
It was a terrifying ordeal for those involved, only made worse by their scapegoating by UEFA and the French officials both during and after the events taking place.
The final itself was delayed by 36 minutes, with the players and staff not initially aware of the problems unfolding just hundreds of yards away, including their own family and friends.
A statement was broadcast on the big screens inside the Stade de France claiming: “Due to the late arrival of fans, the match has been delayed.”
The audacity of blaming supporters for arriving late when, in fact, it was the complete opposite, left onlookers – both in Paris and following around the world – shocked.
And now, as reported by the Guardian, it has been revealed that the statement blaming supporters was pre-prepared “a considerable time before the day of the match.”
David Conn, as part of a must-read visual investigation of the chaos in Saint-Denis, explains that it was “decided on in the planning stages of the match, as the one likely to be used in the event of kickoff having to be delayed.”
Ian Byrne, Labour MP for West Derby, described the news as “truly shocking and horrifying,” adding: “To do it to Liverpool supporters after everything we’ve been through is appalling.”
Liverpool city mayor Steve Rotheram, meanwhile, has recalled a confrontation with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin over the dangerous situation outside the stadium.
Ceferin is believed to have relayed the decision to delay kickoff from the Stade de France VIP area, where Rotheram found himself escorted after being caught up in the disturbing scenes on the concourse.
Rotheram was told by Ceferin that UEFA had “killed itself” to ensure the final – relocated from St Petersburg to Paris months earlier – took place, dismissing the plight of fans at the time.