More than 1,700 Liverpool fans who said they suffered physical injuries or psychological trauma due to the chaos in the Champions League final in Paris on May 28 have registered with law firms to seek damages and interests to UEFA.
People signing up to the group’s potential claims include some who said they had broken ribs in crushes at the Stade de France ahead of the game between Liverpool and Real Madrid, and many others reporting symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the game, organized by UEFA, the confederation of European national football associations, thousands of Liverpool fans were led by French police down a dangerous alternative route through a subway, leading to a narrow and bottleneck where huge queues have accumulated in danger of being crushed. Many of the stadium’s turnstiles were then closed for long periods, leading to static queues and an added risk of being run over, and people were also hit by police using pepper spray and tear gas. UEFA and French authorities blamed Liverpool fans for the chaos and the delayed kick-off.
Gerard Long, a partner at Binghams Solicitors in Liverpool, said more than 1,300 people had expressed interest in a potential claim, most suffering from psychological trauma.
“We represent people who have suffered physical crushing at the turnstiles, and many people who have suffered psychologically; some feared for their lives,” Long said. “Clients have reported anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, never wanting to go to a European football match or even France again.
“Our case is that UEFA, as the host, had a duty of care to the people – who paid a lot of money for the tickets – and they breached it.”
National firm Leigh Day has registered interest from 400 people who were at the game in support of Liverpool, said Jill Paterson, the partner leading the group’s potential claim. She said patrons had reported suffering trauma and physical injuries, including broken bones and bruises from crushing at the turnstiles, and injuries from being hit with batons and police shields.
People had given “truly shocking” accounts of crushing, violence and distress, Paterson said, and reported panic attacks, anxiety, sleepless nights, flashbacks and fears for their safety during future matches.
“Our clients have told us they’ve been run over and gassed, and they fear for their lives,” Paterson said. “Some are people who have already been affected by the Hillsborough disaster.
“Thousands of people spent their hard-earned money on tickets and travel for what should have been a world-class event. Their safety should have been guaranteed; it’s what they paid for as part of their ticket – a well-organized event with all the necessary safety and security protocols and resources in place. There is no excuse for the chaos and trauma that has unfolded. We were approached by a Liverpool fan almost immediately after the event and have been looking into the matter since then and are in contact with French lawyers to build a strong case to try and secure redress for the fans .
Long and Paterson said their firms were in the final stages of collecting and reviewing evidence and, together with French lawyers, were preparing to write to UEFA detailing the allegations.
Liverpool said this week they had sent testimonies from 8,500 supporters to UEFA’s ‘independent review’ of the near-disaster. Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said evidence from supporters’ ‘heartbreaking experiences’ identified congestion, insufficient travel information, problems at the perimeter checkpoint and turnstiles, ‘excessive anti-police tactics -riot”, a lack of communication, “the emotional impact of the incorrect reason for the delayed kick-off” and problems getting in and out of the stadium.
UEFA declined to answer questions from the Guardian about the proposed legal claims. He said he would not answer any further questions about the events until his review had produced its report, which is due in late November.
UEFA said it sincerely apologized “to all the fans who had to experience or witness scary and distressing situations that night. No football fan should be put in this situation, and it must not happen again. »