From today's Times on why
Michel Platini, the president of Uefa, is facing legal action for compensation from an enraged
With two friends, Paul Gregory, an architect, spent €3,490 (£2,370) on flights, accommodation and tickets. "I would like this to be reimbursed by Uefa,'' wrote Gregory in a letter sent to Platini."It's the least you can do for putting our lives at risk. If this is not forthcoming we intend to take action against Uefa through the British judicial system, and through the European Courts if necessary. It was only through good luck that Uefa avoided deaths.
"As a former shareholder in Liverpool FC I am the recipient of three €140 tickets for the Champions League final. All are still unused as we were refused entry into the stadium. I was herded, tear-gassed, kicked and baton-charged by riot police outside the stadium for the hour leading up to kick-off and way beyond.
"As the organising body, Uefa has a duty of care towards its legitimate ticket-holders in just the same way as any corporate body has towards its customers. This duty of care extends to having systems in place to deny entry to the stadium to non-ticket holders. Demonstrably these systems were not in place.
"While unsavoury elements of the
"Not only did thousands gain entry to the stadium with amateurish, photo-copied forgeries (some not even bothering to print the reverse side of the ticket!) but, incredibly, some fans simply walked into the stadium with no ticket at all - forged or legitimate! Others waved a stadium map and gained entry. One fan gained entry to the press box with a photo-copied press pass.''
Gregory has also written to Brian Barwick, the Football Association chief executive, and Rick Parry, Foster Gillett, Tom Hicks jnr and Rafa Benitez at Anfield, outlining in detail problems encountered before kick-off at
local time."I can't even be accused of naivety as this was my sixth European Cup final and I arrived at the stadium an hour and a half before kick-off. Plenty of time to negotiate 'security', I thought.
": Arrived at stadium complex entrance arch. Everyone relaxed. Fans funnelled by railings into several entry points. It became apparent fairly quickly very few people were being let through. It also became apparent this was a holding operation.
"8.45: Crushing begins as fans see little progress. Panic beginning. Children lifted up and crying. Pushing from behind. Police respond by pushing back and forming an impenetrable barrier.
"9.00: I finally make it to the front. Extruded like toothpaste out of a tube into police line; 100m further on, a line of police buses with a bus-sized gap and riot police blocking it. Fans backing up here. It becomes apparent this is a similar holding operation. It looks like one or two are allowed through at a time to give the appearance of a checkpoint. Totally inadequate again. We hold up our tickets, to no avail.
"9.30: No one is getting through now. Police drive a bus in to close gap off completely. Crowd of 2,000-5,000 backing up. Panic, crushing. My feet aren't touching the ground. Kids crying. Pressure increases to dangerous levels. This prompts police to let crowd know over hand-held Tannoy that 'the stadium is full! You can't get in'. No one can believe it. The charade is over. The crowd realise they haven't been policed; they've been conned, corralled, herded and contained for the last hour. A surge from the back and now it's confrontational. The police get more vocal and counter-surge with shields, batons, helmets, visors and boots, pushing us back a few metres.
"The police fire a huge cloud of tear gas and panic ensues. Police batter their way forward. Crowd retreats, choking and eyes streaming.
"9.45: We assume the match will not kick off. Surprised to find it has.
"10.00: Some fans regroup and storm staircases to our right. Running skirmishes. Beaten back by police. Tear gas again, kickings. Some fans try to crawl under parked buses. This goes on until about 10.30. We make our way back.''
Gregory has asked Platini to answer three specific questions:
"1) At what time was the stadium declared closed? And by whom? 2) What security arrangements did you have in place, particularly in regard to forged tickets that Uefa had been warned about weeks in advance? 3) Why are corporate 'partners' allowed to sell tickets at hugely inflated rates to fans?'
Finally, if you want a solution to this perennial problem the answer (apart from security that actually works) is easy: license clubs to show the match live on screens at their home stadium when the live venue is sold out.''