UEFA and FIFA are both organisations who care first and foremost about their own reputations. The behaviour of FIFA officials in recent years is well documented and it has been a tale of corruption and self interest.
When UEFA announced on the night of the Champions League final that the delayed kick off was down to the behaviour of Liverpool fans and fake tickets, I for one was immediately suspicious that they couldn’t possibly have the full facts at their disposal when they issued their untimely statement on the night. The obvious response would have been to say that they would establish the facts and then comment but self preservation ruled above all else.
Normally they might get away with this but UEFA was besieged last week by complaints from their sponsors, which is something they can’t brush under the carpet as they would normally do.
Major sponsors like Heineken have provided evidence of their guests being tear gassed by French police and then being mugged by knife-wielding local thugs in a notorious are where fans should never been left to fend for themselves. Scores of Real Madrid and Liverpool fans suffered the same fate.
The pathetic excuse from the French authorities that they didn’t have enough time to plan for the match rings very hollow. Were they unaware that the area they diverted Real Madrid and Liverpool fans into was a crime infested area? Why were no police around to protect fans?
The independent inquiry needs to get to the truth of what happened as no fans watching their team should ever be treated in this way. UEFA has a responsibility to all fans supporting teams in their competitions and this time must act. If as I suspect the French police are widely criticised in the independent report then the French government needs to make sure there are repercussions and not just empty words.
I hope the sponsors keep up the pressure on UEFA because the threat of a financial loss going forward is the key to positive action ensuing.