Liverpool FC – Billy Hogan on LFC’s response to the events of the UCL final
Billy, you gave us an update just after your return from Paris on Sunday. Could you give us the latest updates on the independent investigation that you and others have called for after Saturday’s events?
It’s good to hear that others are also calling for a truly independent and transparent investigation into the organization of the final in Paris. We responded to our request for an independent investigation to UEFA in writing. We have also noted our deep concern about the misinformation circulating, while strongly urging UEFA to accept an open and transparent investigation into everything that happened on Saturday night, and we will continue to press for this. I also read this afternoon in the media that there was a meeting this morning with the French authorities and UEFA and a number of other stakeholders; however, we were not asked for our input or to submit information prior to the meeting, so we received the outcome of this meeting like everyone else: through the media. Finally, we also examine the legal avenues available to us on behalf of the supporters concerned. So, in summary, a lot of activity, a lot of engagement with many stakeholders since Saturday evening and we will continue to push for an independent investigation as soon as possible. In our minds, this means that an independent group of experts will carry out this review.
Given today’s comments from the French sports minister who criticized Liverpool FC for leaving supporters ‘in the wild’ – what would you say in response to that?
I’ll just say we’re incredibly surprised that someone in this position is commenting in the first place at this point when we haven’t had enough time to figure out what happened. There was no independent investigation to establish all the facts. And as we said on Saturday, there has to be this independent and transparent investigation into what happened in the game. This is the start of the process. So to comment at this stage, before any investigation is launched, is completely inappropriate. We should know all the facts to make sure the scenes we all saw – absolutely shameful – on Saturday never happen again.
By making comments as deeply unnecessary as this, we just think everyone should focus on the proper investigation and less on the inflammatory comments that attempt to deflect responsibility for what happened on Saturday night. What I would say is that our supporters received the information from UEFA to get to the stadium safely, which they did; they approached the stadium as instructed and in good time. However, it was upon their arrival at the stadium that they encountered the problems. As for the reviews, we were totally in disbelief when told about this earlier today. I think it’s important for people to know that our president, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister expressing our point of view and asking our fans to apologize for these comments.
And what about some of the numbers that are being published in the media today and right now, and the inference that there are ticketless fans at the Stade de France?
At this point, I think it’s just not responsible to comment until we’ve gathered all the information. People have obviously had their experience on the pitch at the stadium, but until the relevant stakeholders have had the opportunity to carry out proper investigation, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on numbers. . I heard 40,000 people were at the stadium without tickets, someone said that today – how can that be quantified at this stage, before we’ve had an independent and transparent investigation? There have also been quotes about people with counterfeit notes; but, again, how do we know all the facts until we have investigated?
One fact we know is that the Champions League final is expected to be one of the greatest spectacles in football and has resulted in one of the worst experiences in many fans’ lives. So, I would say that all politicians and agencies involved in this event should wait for a full and independent investigation to be concluded before attempting to shift blame. The gravity of these events demands that we do this, a professional review so that all lessons can be learned and, as we have said, that all football fans – Liverpool or otherwise – never again have to experience a such experience.
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