Lawyers representing more than 800 Liverpool fans who suffered injuries and trauma in the chaos of the Champions League final last May have formally written to UEFA threatening legal action unless full compensation is paid.
Leigh Day, one of three companies representing nearly 3,000 people involved in the catastrophic disruption at the Stade de France in Paris, argues that fans are entitled to compensation for their physical and psychological injuries under French law. If UEFA does not accept that it is responsible for security breaches at the Liverpool-Real Madrid final, or fails to reach a compensation agreement, Leigh Day has warned that it will take action in Liverpool’s high court.
The “pre-action” letter to the European football confederation follows the publication of a scathing report by UEFA’s independent review panel on 13 February. He found UEFA bore “primary responsibility” for security failures that caused catastrophic congestion and crushing at the stadium which, exacerbated by hostile and disorganized policing by French officials who used pepper spray and tear gas, could have led to a disaster of ” mass death”. The report concluded that UEFA had “sidelined” its own safety and security unit, headed since 2021 by Zeljko Pavlica, a close friend of President Aleksander Ceferin.
Leigh Day argues as the basis of the legal action that UEFA breached its obligations as organizer of the final to ensure the safety of fans who purchased tickets. A long series of faults are alleged against UEFA, including the failure to consult its safety and security unit.
Liverpool fans who briefed the company suffered injuries from being crushed against turnstile gates that were left closed for long periods before the match, and from tear gas and pepper spray. Many, including some who were also at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in April 1989 when 97 people were killed illegally in a crush, have experienced psychological distress since the chaos of Paris, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. .
Clare Campbell and Jill Paterson, the Leigh Day partners responsible for the group’s claim, said: “Since publication of the report, UEFA has apologized to supporters and said it will announce a ‘special refund scheme’, but we believe those who suffered deserve more than the price of a ticket.
“For many of our customers, the reason they have part of the claim is about liability and part of that is redress. Offering adequate compensation is part of UEFA’s recognition of the significant role it played in the chaos that unfolded at the 2022 Champions League Final and the injuries and trauma suffered as a result.”
UEFA said when the report was published that it would set up “a special refund scheme for fans”, although it has so far not provided further details. In its statement, the European football confederation did not say it accepted the report, but that it was “at the moment analyzing the magazine’s conclusions and measuring them against its own analysis of the organization of the event and the facts that occurred around it”.
UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis issued an apology “to all those who were affected by the events” and to Liverpool fans for “the experiences many of them had watching the game and for the messages released before and during the game. “. which had the effect of unfairly blaming them for the situation that led to the delay in kick-off”.
UEFA has been contacted for comment on the legal complaint.