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UEFA to refund Liverpool fans for Champions League final chaos

An independent review published last month found UEFA largely responsible for security issues that “nearly led to disaster” at last year’s final in Paris.

UEFA says it will reimburse all Liverpool supporters who attended last year’s chaotic Champions League final between the English club and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

Heavily criticized in an independent report published last month for organizational failures that “nearly led to disaster”, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday its restitution scheme would cover the entire Liverpool allocation of nearly 20,000.

“It is remarkable that no one lost their life,” the investigative panel wrote in a 220-page document.

Refunds will also be made to Real Madrid supporters and neutral fans who meet certain criteria set by UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations.

“We have taken into account a wide range of views expressed both publicly and privately and we believe we have come up with a plan that is comprehensive and fair,” said UEFA Secretary General Theodore Theodoridis.

“We recognize the negative experiences of those supporters on the day and with this arrangement we will refund fans who had purchased tickets and who were most affected by the difficulties in accessing the stadium.”

Tens of thousands of fans queued for hours before the match on May 28 at the 75,000-capacity Stade de France, a key venue for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Many fans were tear gassed by police before the match, which was delayed by nearly 40 minutes.

UEFA statements during the chaos and after the game falsely blamed Liverpool fans for arriving late to the stadium and using counterfeit tickets to try to get in.

After Madrid’s victory, dozens of fans were robbed by local residents as they left the stadium.

An apology to Liverpool supporters for “the experiences of many of them” and the unjustified allegations was made by Theodoridis last month.

Fan group Football Supporters Europe praised the decision to return money.

“UEFA’s announcement of the ticket refunds is both unprecedented and hugely welcome, building concretely on the apology they have previously offered to Liverpool fans,” said FSE board member Kevin Miles.

“Any football fan who has traveled abroad to cheer for a team knows that while it may be Liverpool fans who suffered last year, these events or anything like that could happen to any of us.”

Footage from the final tarnished France’s reputation for hosting major sporting events ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics, both of which will host events at the Stade de France.

This year’s Champions League final will be played on June 10 in Istanbul, Turkey.