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Fans deserve answers from UEFA’s overdue independent review into the 2022 Champions League final

Eight months after thousands of Liverpool fans underwent physical and psychological harm at the Champions League final, those impacted are still waiting for the publication of UEFA's independent review. Here, solicitor Clare Campbell discusses the effect months of waiting has had on those looking for answers.

Posted on 24 January 2023

On May 28th 2022 thousands of Liverpool FC fans experienced what many have described as ‘the worst day of their lives’. To add salt to the wounds, French government, police and UEFA united instantly to put the blame on Liverpool supporters, claiming that the chaos was caused by thousands seeking entry with fake tickets.

After repeated calls by Liverpool FC and their supporters for a full inquiry to establish the truth behind the events that unfolded, UEFA announced it had commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding the UEFA Champions League final in Paris. According to UEFA, the review will comprehensively examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final.

The independent group, led by Dr Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, aimed to have the final report delivered and published by November. Speaking ahead of the investigation's launch, Dr Rodrigues said: "The events of May 28 were distressing for everyone involved. This review aims to look at the evidence dispassionately and to identify responsibilities and ways forward. I am very pleased with the responsiveness of the experts we have contacted, and I am confident we can make a significant contribution to future events’ planning."

Eight months on from the Champions League final, and two months after the report was originally supposed to be published, fans are still waiting to find out exactly what happened that day and why.

Without this understanding, those involved in staging such events cannot ensure that further incidents are prevented and discussions around safety measures that need to be implemented cannot start.

The longer we wait for the publication of the report, the less likely it is that any outcomes, recommendations and actions can be implemented during this football season. This means another Champions League final could come around before lessons are learned from the disaster of the last one.

Many organisations, including the Spirit of Shankly have put pressure on the Inquiry Panel for an update on the progress of the report, yet there is still no clarity on when their report will be finalised.

As a firm acting on behalf of more than 500 people affected by the events of this day, we echo these calls for clarity. We can only hope that the delayed publication is a sign that the investigation will be thorough.

Already an investigation, led by Prof Phil Scraton, who was also the lead author of the report published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, has been published and was extremely critical of UEFA and their organisation and management of the event. Prof Scraton said: “Responsibility for the collapse in authority, management and safety, lies with those organising and administering the event.”

With such damning words, it is important that UEFA’s independent review is robust and doesn’t gloss over the real issues. We are hopeful that the months that have been put into the investigation means that the conclusions reached will provide clear insight and result in impactful change.

But, regardless of what is causing the delay, lack of transparency around the report’s publication date is causing further distress to those who have already been traumatised by the horrific events that took place on 28th May. The very least they deserve is to know when they can expect findings to be made public.

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