Liverpool FC fan shares his experience of the 2022 Champions League final after UEFA’s report absolves supporters
This week UEFA’s independent review of the 2022 Champion’s League final was published, exonerating fans. Here, lifelong Liverpool FC supporter, Andrew Patterson, discusses what he describes as ‘the worst day of my life’.
Posted on 15 February 2023
UEFA should be ashamed of themselves. They had more than enough time and plenty of resources in which to organise a safe event for people to go to. Fans should feel safe to go to these events.
They knew that the ground wasn’t safe from previous events. It was mismanaged from day one. It was understaffed and underprepared and then they came out and blamed fans who spent thousands of pounds to watch the club that they love in what, for some people, is a once in a lifetime experience.
I’ve never been to a game like it. The point where it got really bad was underneath the giant bridge on the lead up to the stadium. We got there about two and a half hours before kick-off. I never get to a game that early but, in this instance, I thought ‘let’s get in there early and sober’. We spent about an hour under that bridge.
You didn’t have a say in where you were going, you were just being picked up by the motion of the crowd and being moved around. People were really scared, there were people having panic attacks and screaming. It was a horrible, horrible atmosphere and it was all because of the kettling tactic the police used.
I’m type one diabetic and the insulin I carry with me was destroyed by the heat because we were all packed in so closely together. From that point on, which was about two and a half hours before the game, I was in a really dangerous position because I had no insulin.
When we were getting through that crush the atmosphere changed. It went from excitement being at the final and everyone being happy and having a good time, to survival mode.
We got to the point where they were supposed to be checking tickets, but this isn’t actually what they were doing. They were funnelling fans causing another pinch point. There were thousands of people stuck trying get through. There were surges of locals running into the crowds of fans pick pocketing, trying to get your tickets and storming the fences.
About 45 minutes before kick-off, we were at the gates to the stadium, and it was chaotic. There was an incident next to me where a man in his 50s had his ticket out and a local punched him in the face and split his eye open. There was blood everywhere. Not one police officer or steward helped him, it was just other fans pulling the guy off the Liverpool fan and then giving him bottles of water and tissues to help clean him up.
To stop the locals storming the fences, the police started pepper spraying the crowd but this meant it was getting fans in the face who had done nothing wrong.
One of the guys from either the Spirit of Shankly or the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance came down around kick time. A lot of people knew him, and they were shouting ‘please help us.’ He was trying to communicate to the police officers that they were going to kill somebody.
There was nowhere for people to go so everyone was getting crushed. A lad ran up to a press van and shouted ‘hand me the kids’ and he was pulling kids and vulnerable people out of the crowds a lifting them on top of the van. At this point people were shouting at the police to let us in saying ‘don’t let it be like Hillsborough’.
The police finally decided to open the gates but because of the volume of people they couldn’t get it open properly so there were thousands of people trying to get through this tiny gap.
As people were trying to get through there was another crush. A little kid fell over and my mate dived onto the floor and picked the kid up as a surge of thousands of people were charging.
As I went through, I was pushed against the fence which ripped the sensor off my arm that monitors my blood sugars. I started panicking because now I had no way of monitoring my sugars and no medication. I wasn’t able to get replacement insulin until 3am the next day which meant I was without medication for around eight hours.
By the time we got in the stadium there was no interest in the game. I’m a diehard fan but I didn’t care that we lost the biggest game in football. All I was interested in was me and my mates getting home safe.
In the stadium, one of the stewards punched a Liverpool fan in the face. We’d just gone through an ordeal to get into the stadium and now we’re being attacked in our seats.
Not long after, a gang of about 15 stewards ran up our stairwell and started attacking us. It became a battle. We chased them down the stairs and as we’re coming down the police start coming up and hitting us with batons and shields and chasing us.
The second the final whistle blew, me and my mates left. Getting out of the stadium was worse than getting in. There were groups of young lads snatching bags and slashing people. I’ve never seen lawlessness like it.
A friend I was with got a phone call from my other friend saying that they got jumped by a big group of lads at the train station, so we decided to go with the Real Madrid fans. We got about 500 metres from the stadium and a Liverpool fan came up to us and told us not to go down there because he’d seen someone getting slashed across the back with a machete.
It was the worst day of my life and I’m still dealing with the issues now. I still can’t deal with big crowds, I still wake up with night terrors, I can’t recount the story without tears, it’s messed me up in a big way.
At first, I tried to deal with it by myself but thankfully I got help, I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and I’m working through it. For a lot of people, they’ll still be trying to cope with it themselves.
UEFA didn’t just ruin the day, for a lot of people, they ruined lives. To say they dealt with it poorly is an understatement. It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.
Stade de France group claim
We are investigating a group claim legal action on behalf of Liverpool FC fans, and others, who attended the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris on 28 May 2022