Independent Panel Report into Fans’ Experiences at the 2022 European Champions League Final
An independent panel report, based on the written testimonies of 485 women, men and children, and eyewitness accounts by international journalists, tells the story of those who survived extreme violence at the hands of the police and local gangs before and after the European Champions League Final in Paris, May 2022.
Compiled by five leading authorities in their respective fields, including author of the ground-breaking report into the Hillsborough disaster, Professor Emeritus Phil Scraton from the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast, the report, “Treated with Contempt": An Independent Panel Report into Fans' Experiences Before, During and After the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris', details survivors’ written evidence submitted in the days after the event.
The report’s authors state: “Held for several hours in a bottleneck close to the ground, then again in static queues at malfunctioning turnstiles, fans were subjected to unprovoked tear-gassing by the paramilitary police. On leaving the stadium they were attacked at knife-point by gangs who stole their possessions. They were tear-gassed repeatedly by the police.
“Without protection, many who had paid significant amounts of money for match tickets, travel and accommodation did not enter the stadium. Fortuitously, no-one died but those injured missed their travel home. Thousands, including children, have been left traumatised.”
The report’s 53 findings focus on: pre-match preparation by UEFA and the Paris agencies; policing – before, during and after the match; crowd safety and event management; fans’ experiences; and UEFA’s role and responsibilities.
Speaking about the findings, Professor Scraton said: “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. Having paid inflated prices for travel, accommodation and attendance, men, women and children were subjected to unprovoked, indiscriminate police violence including tear gas 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.”
Some of the key findings include:
- Inadequate pre-match preparation by UEFA and the Paris agencies;
- Aggressive policing – before, during and after the match;
- Inadequate provision for crowd safety and event management;
- Fans’ left traumatised by unprovoked assaults by the police and local gangs;
- Abject failure by UEFA in meeting its responsibilities.
“Our comprehensive analysis of fans' experiences before, during and after the Champions League Final is an indictment of all authorities involved: UEFA; the Paris police; local and central government; and the stadium owners. These stark and painful testimonies, particularly those concerning children, families, the elderly and those with disabilities, reveal the cumulative, long-lasting impact on them individually and collectively. For those fans who survived the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and all that followed, Paris was retraumatising,” said Dr Deena Haydon, independent researcher and writer.
Dr Lucy Easthope, Professor in Practice of Risk and Hazard at the University of Durham commented: “Fans’ statements raise substantial concerns about whether UEFA and the French authorities have learned from previous events. Their safety was compromised, not least by indiscriminate, reckless and unprovoked police use of tear gas. Lives were put at risk by a collective, operational failure to implement a comprehensive stadium safety management plan that should have been regularly tested, risk assessed and refined. Detailing the experiences of those who were there, this report provides the foundation to developing a comprehensive approach to stadium safety, event management and attendees’ welfare.”
“Collectively and consistently, fans' testimonies demonstrate the shocking treatment they suffered before and after the match, particularly at the hands of those who should have ensured their safety. Already evident is the longer-term impact on their physical health and psychological well-being. The consequences of events on and after 28th May 2022 will have personal and professional ramifications for a long time to come,” said Dr Patricia Canning, Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities at Northumbria University.
Journalist and broadcaster Peter Marshall added: “Only the forbearance of the fans averted catastrophe. It truly is a miracle no one died. UEFA, who organise these events and supposedly vet stadium safety and security, must explain how they allowed this to happen - and why, in the face of the evidence, they persisted in blaming innocent supporters. UEFA officials must face up to their individual and collective responsibility.”
The full report, “Treated with Contempt": An Independent Panel Report into Fans' Experiences Before, During and After the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris', is available here: https://law.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/filestore/Filetoupload,1530449,en.pdf
Professor Phil Scraton will feature on BBC Panorama’s ‘The Champions League Final: What went Wrong?’ on Monday 17 October at 8.00pm on BBC One.
Professor Phil Scraton
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