Ten days after the UEFA Champions League final in Athens which was organised with as much strategic planning as a car boot sale, UEFA’s murky officials began to leak stories to the press about their report condeming Liverpool fans as the worst in Europe.
William Gaillard, UEFA director of Communications who had hailed the reds supporters after Istanbul, at a gala evening following our victorious UEFA Cup win in 2001 (when we were awarded a joint prize for best European supporters) and prior to the Athens final had suddenly decided that ‘there have always been problems with Liverpool fans’.
What caused this dramatic change in opinion? Surely not the total calamity of Athens in which tickets were not correctly checked as people entered a stadium leading to the situation of around 3000 genuine LFC ticket holders being denied entry to a game they had spent thousands of pounds on with expensive flights and accomodation. Why not tear gas and baton charge these genuine fans too? Oh, that’s right. You did.
Supporters of English clubs who do not regularly play in Europe may be amazed that turnstiles are too civilised for such a thing as a European Cup Final. When UEFA run a football game, they have 15 foot wide gates and you can just wave any piece of paper in the air and you’re in. Don’t bother paying for a ticket at all.
After last Wednesday, many obviously upset genuine LFC ticket holders (the ones who got tear-gassed and cracked with some batons in Athens), began to look in to claims against UEFA for their ruined holidays and travel plans (which would have cost in to the thousands of pounds per person) – never mind injury claims. Liverpool Football Club had warned UEFA a week before the game to ensure that appropriate ticket checks were in place to ensure only legitimate ticket holders entered. The British police also were aware of forged tickets for the final that were being produced in Britain.
We are not saying all Liverpool fans are blameless. Many Liverpool fans had bought forgeries unknowingly. If appropriate checks had been in place then these fans would not have gained entry. Some Liverpool fans ‘bunked in’. They should not have been allowed to. Appropriate checks should have been in place a substantial distance from the ground – like happens at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium and probably the new Wembley. Some fans claimed it was easier to bunk in than the 1981 European Cup Final – that’s 26 years ago folks.
As for the ‘worst fans’ tag. Utterly ludicrous. Every club has it’s idiots but compare the scenes in the days leading up to the final to England at a World Cup. Racism is rife on the continent. The scenes at Roma this year and every year are disgusting. UEFA does Nothing. Italian clubs every season seem to be faced with playing games behind closed doors. They should be banned. A PSG fan was shot dead in France earlier this season – an Milan – Inter game was abandoned after flares were being thrown at the players, Feyenoord were kicked out of the competition for crowd violence. Man Utd fans were attacked in Lille and Rome…
The truth is this. British fans are an easy target across the continent for tooled up Police who are more violent than our own, and European opposition ‘ultras’ see taking on fans of all English clubs as something of a ‘medal of honour’. Why do they do this? Precisely because of the propaganda that UEFA have used in the last few days to try and defend the fact they are incompetent to the highest degree.
UEFA’s comments have put at risk not only every Liverpool fan who travels abroad but also every English fan, and every fan of all the English sides participating in Europe next season. William Gaillard has tarred English football to defend his organisation’s own mistakes. If any trouble occurs for any English clubs then UEFA will have the blood on their hands.
And what will be Liverpool’s punishment for being ‘the Worst fans’? Nothing, apparently, according to another UEFA spokesman. Now isn’t that very interesting.
Our reason for this strange situation is that their propaganda ‘dossier’ is about as watertight as a tea-strainer.
You’re fooling nobody UEFA. 40,000 fans in Istanbul. 35,000 in Athens. The only violence was that handed out by the Greek police thanks to UEFA’s sheer incompetence.
Champions League? You’re having a laugh.