LIVERPOOL CEO Billy Hogan admits he’s “in complete disbelief” after comments made by France’s sports minister over the Champions League final chaos.
The Anfield chief is demanding an apology after French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Liverpool fans were “let out in the wild” on Sunday.
She added: “What happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets.”
Those claims were backed by French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, who said: “There was massive fraud to an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets because the pre-filtering by the Stade de France and the French football federation saw that 70 per cent of tickets were fake.”
But Liverpool have hit back after Uefa announced it was launching an independent investigation into the shocking scenes.
Speaking at a Q&A, chief executive Hogan branded Oudea-Castera’s comments “deeply hurtful”, admitting he is “incredibly surprised” by the response.
And he wants an apology made to Liverpool’s fans, who went on to see their side lose 1-0 to Real Madrid.
Hogan said: “I would just say we are incredibly surprised that someone in that position would make comments in the first place at this point, when we haven’t had adequate time to understand what happened.
“There hasn’t been an independent investigation to establish all the facts. And as we said on Saturday, there needs to be that independent, transparent investigation into what happened at the match. That’s the start of the process.
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“So to be making comments at this stage, prior to any investigation being launched, is completely inappropriate. We should know all the facts to make sure that the scenes that we’ve all seen – absolutely disgraceful – from Saturday don’t ever happen again.
“Making comments as deeply unhelpful as that, we just feel that everyone should be focused on getting the investigation right and less about making inflammatory comments that attempt to deflect responsibility for what happened on Saturday night.
“What I would say is that our fans were provided the Uefa information to travel to the stadium safely, which they did; they approached the stadium as directed and in good time. However, it was on arrival at the stadium when they experienced the issues.
“In regard to the comments, we were in complete disbelief when we were made aware of them earlier today.
“I think it’s important that folks know that our chairman, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister to articulate our views and is calling for an apology to our fans for those comments.”
Werner’s letter read: “Dear Minister,
“I am writing to you today out of utter disbelief that a Minister of the French Government, a position of enormous responsibility and influence, could make a series of unproven pronouncements on a matter of such significance before a proper, formal, independent investigation process has even taken place.
“The events that occurred in and around the Stade de France on Saturday night at the Uefa Champions League Final were not only incredibly dangerous for all who attended, but raised serious questions about the organisation and operation of the event. This should be the focus of all interested parties today rather than pursuing a blame game strategy via press conference.
“I have received countless emails from Liverpool supporters who were frightened to death, and subject to police harassment, pepper spray and tear gas. Moreover, the situation was no better at the end of the evening than at the beginning, with many fans robbed, and attacked by gangs.
“It was clear that fans were forced to go through a gauntlet, spending more than 2 hours in queues. One person said they were ‘trapped against the gates, nobody was moving, and nobody on the other side of the gates was communicating at all.’ These fans were treated like cattle.
“How can loose data and unverified assertions presented this morning be anywhere near factual without a truly independent and transparent investigation with the right stakeholders including our supporters, our club and others taking place. Worse still, these assertions undermine the pursuit of truth and transparency which should underpin the motivations of any organisation or individual with a desire to ensure such unacceptable scenes are never repeated.
“The fact that your public position went against this objective is a concern in itself. That you did so without any recourse to ourselves or our supporters is an even greater one. All voices should count in this process, and they should count equally and fairly.
“As a club, it was already our strong feeling that any investigation should be impartial, independent, and transparent. This view has only intensified as a direct result of your public comments and the impact they have had on a narrative which runs contrary to the experiences of many. Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally.
“Uefa Champions League Final should be one of the finest spectacles in world sport, and instead it devolved into one of the worst security collapses in recent memory. On behalf of all the fans who experienced this nightmare I demand an apology from you, and assurance that the French Authorities and Uefa allow an independent and transparent investigation to proceed.”
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