‘Criminal assault’: report’s verdict on police treatment of fans at Champions League final | Liverpool

An independent report by leading academics into the chaos at May’s Champions League final claims police treatment of fans “constituted criminal assault”.

The report also suggests Uefa’s “egregious failures” led to thousands of supporters being caught up in severe congestion on the approaches to the Stade de France and those who reached the ground being forced up against the perimeter fence as ticketing and turnstile problems caused huge bottlenecks.

Fan attending the Liverpool v Real Madrid game were also attacked by local gangs, and Paris police used tear gas on supporters waiting to get into the venue and on those in the fan zone several miles away.

A panel led by Professor Phil Scranton, who also led the Hillsborough Independent Panel into the 1989 disaster in which 97 Liverpool fans died and has been an advocate for the affected families, has produced a report based on 485 eyewitness testimonies – two-thirds of whom mention fearing for their lives.

The report states: “Persistent, random police assaults on fans, and unprovoked deployment of teargas on men, women and children trapped in confined spaces, was reckless and dangerous. It constituted criminal assault.

“The hostility of the police prior to the match (at the Fan Zone and stadium approaches), during (in the stadium) and after (at the stadium, the stations and in the city) demonstrated a collective mindset which resulted in breaches of criminal law.

“At the Stade de France there were egregious failures on all aspects of Uefa’s responsibility for stadium safety. Sustained failure in crowd management severely compromised the health and wellbeing of fans.

“It is clear from fans’ statements that they were put at risk by aggressive policing, ineffectual safety measures and a failure to implement comprehensive stadium safety management plans based on risk management principles.

“Grounded in their understanding, and for some direct experience, of the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool fans prevented a fatal tragedy occurring through their collective action.”

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The report stated the organisation of the final showed a lack of coordination between the actors involved and it identified “multiple malfunctions”.

“It is difficult to comprehend the sequence of events that constituted the debacle in Paris, leaving so many people physically injured, psychologically harmed and financially compromised,” said Scranton, Professor Emeritus, School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast.

“Men, women and children were subjected to unprovoked, indiscriminate police violence including teargas and baton assaults, together with robbery at knife-point by local gangs.

“Many left before the match, those who stayed were subjected to further attacks by riot police and gangs on leaving the stadium and arriving at local stations. Responsibility for the collapse in authority, management and safety, lies with those organising and administering the event.”

Uefa’s independent report into the events is due to be published next month and it will not comment on the subject until it is published.

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