UEFA plans to refund all Liverpool supporters who had tickets for the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris, the governing body of European soccer announced on Tuesday.
Last year’s final was delayed by more than 35 minutes after Liverpool fans struggled to enter the Stade de France and tear gas was used by French police towards supporters held in tightly packed areas.
There was widespread criticism about the way fans were treated at the game, with UK Member of Parliament Ian Byrne – who was at the match as a Liverpool fan – describing the situation outside the stadium as “one of the most horrendous experiences of my life.”
A UEFA statement on the refund said: “UEFA will implement a special refund scheme for fans who were most affected when accessing the Stade de France on 28 May 2022.
“Refunds will be available to all fans with tickets for gates A, B, C, X, Y and Z where the most difficult circumstances were reported.
“Given these criteria, the special refund scheme covers all of the Liverpool FC ticket allocation for the Final, i.e. 19,618 tickets.”
UEFA noted that Real Madrid fans and neutral supporters affected while accessing the stadium can also claim refunds, depending on whether they meet the criteria.
An independent review commissioned by UEFA found that the organization bears “primary responsibility” for circumstances which almost caused the event to turn into a “mass fatality catastrophe.”
“We recognize the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and, with this scheme, we will refund fans who had bought tickets and who were the most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium,” UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis said.
“We have taken into account a huge number of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have devised a scheme that is comprehensive and fair.
“We value the input from the Liverpool FC supporter organizations Spirit of Shankly (SOS) and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) as well as the open and transparent dialogue throughout this period,” Theodoridis added.
Spirit of Shankly (SOS) issued a statement in conjunction with the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Society, reading: “We welcome today’s announcement from UEFA. This unprecedented move is the result of tireless work, alongside FSE (Football Supporters Europe) and Ian Byrne MP, to hold those responsible for the catastrophic events in Paris.
“With a promise to reimburse supporters, UEFA have gone some way to acknowledging their part in the fiasco. But it does not excuse UEFA, exempt them from criticism or lessen the need for them to implement all of the recommendations made by the independent inquiry.
“We will work alongside Liverpool and publish details once we know how and when refunds will be processed.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Tony Winterburn – a partner at Pogust Goodhead, the law firm running the case against UEFA on behalf of Liverpool fans who attended the Champions League final – said the refund scheme is insufficient compensation.
“Digesting the fine details of this scheme will allow us to determine if it is, in fact, ‘comprehensive and fair’. Although this does present as a step towards UEFA accepting responsibility for the events, our legal case is still progressing,” Winterburn said.
“It is pertinent the extent of the physical and psychological injuries of our clients remains at the forefront of this process.
“We believe the term ‘refund,’ in its broadest sense, does not go far enough in providing redress or acknowledging the true harm suffered by those at an event that should have been safe for all to attend.”