UEFA have dismissed the Champions League final delay which followed the chaos outside the stadium as a ‘moot point’ for both Liverpool and Real Madrid players.
The showpiece match in Paris on May 28 was delayed by 36 minutes, with fans forced to wait in long queues outside the Stade de France and subjected to tear gas from French police.
Some were unable to enter the stadium despite having genuine tickets and UEFA initially blamed the delay to kick off on Liverpool supporters who showed up late, before the French Senate decided that the fans were “unfairly” held responsible.
Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti’s players had to warm up for a second time after kick-off was postponed and Liverpool assistant Pep Ljinders recently described how angry the dressing room felt at the away scenes of the stadium.
But the impact of the chaos on the pitch was downplayed in UEFA’s 2022 Champions League technical report.
“Despite all the color inside, it was a final whose kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes amid agonizing scenes for away fans,” the governing body wrote.
“The impact on players having to leave the dressing room for a second warm-up before the eventual kick-off was a moot point.”
Liverpool’s Andy Robertson said of the delay: “You do your warm-up, you run and you get ready for the game and you’re told it’s half an hour late… it’s not ideal when you play the biggest game of your season.
Speaking in his book ‘Intensity’, Ljinders lifted the lid on not just Liverpool’s disappointment at a 1-0 loss, but also the players’ frustration with the hosts.
“It was deathly quiet. Some (players) were in tears, some were just in complete frustration and most of us in disillusionment,” Ljinders wrote, describing the scene after the game.
“UEFA, by the way, didn’t warn us about the delays. It was only after we finished our warm-up that we found out. Can you imagine that, before a Champions League final?
“But more important than that was the terrible treatment of our fans outside, trying to get in to watch the game. A complete failure by the authorities, UEFA and the police.
“We couldn’t believe what we saw and heard when we later received the pictures, videos and stories of those caught in it. This included members of my family who told me they had cried – first out of fear when they were outside and later out of sheer relief once they arrived.
UEFA apologized for the “frightening and distressing events” in the days following the final and commissioned an independent report into the pre-match scenes.
(Photo: Getty Images)