Liverpool fans plan 1,700-man legal action against Uefa over Paris final

Liverpool fans plan 1,700-man legal action against Uefa over Paris final

Liverpool fans plan 1,700-man legal action against Uefa over Paris final

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More than 1,700 Liverpool supporters who have reported suffering physical injuries or psychological trauma as a result of the chaos at the Champions League final in Paris on May 28 have registered with law firms to make compensation claims against Uefa.

People signing up for the potential class action lawsuits include some who reported suffering broken ribs in a crush at the Stade de France before the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid, and many more reported symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Related: How the Champions League final descended into chaos – visual investigation

At the match, organized by Uefa, the confederation of Europe’s national football associations, thousands of Liverpool supporters were directed by French police on a dangerous alternative route through a subway, leading to a narrow, bottleneck perimeter checkpoint where huge queues built up to a risk . of crushing. Many gymnastic crosses in the stadium were then closed for long periods, leading to static queues and further crush hazards, and people were also affected by police using pepper spray and firing tear gas. Uefa and the French authorities blamed the Liverpool supporters for the chaos and the delay in kick-off.

Gerard Long, a partner at Bingham solicitors in Liverpool, said more than 1,300 people had registered their interest in a potential claim, most of them suffering from psychological trauma.

“We represent people who have suffered physical crushing injuries at the roundabouts, and many people who have suffered psychologically; some were in fear of their lives,” Long said. “Customers have reported anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, never wanting to go to a European football match or even France again.

“Our case is that Uefa as organizers had a duty of care to people – who paid a lot of money for tickets – and they breached it.”

National firm Leigh Day has registered interest from 400 people who were at the game to support Liverpool, said Jill Paterson, the partner leading the potential group claim. She said clients had reported suffering trauma and physical injuries, including broken bones and bruises from the crushes at the turnstiles, and injuries from being hit with police batons and shields.

Related: ‘I had to leave’: concerns raised across Uefa state amid claims of friendship

People had given “truly shocking” accounts of heartbreak, violence and distress, Paterson said, reporting panic attacks, anxiety, sleepless nights, flashbacks and fears for their safety at future matches.

“Our clients have told us they were devastated and tear gassed and in fear for their lives,” Paterson said. “Some are people who were previously affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

“Thousands of people spent their hard-earned money on tickets and travel to what should have been a world-class event. Their safety should have been guaranteed; that’s what they paid for as part of their ticket – a well-run event with all the necessary safety and security protocols and resources in place. There is no excuse for the chaos and trauma that unfolded. We were contacted by a Liverpool fan almost immediately after the event and we have been investigating this ever since and liaising with French lawyers to build a strong case to try and get redress for the fans.”

Long and Paterson said their firms were in the final stages of gathering and reviewing the evidence and, working with French lawyers, preparing to write to Uefa detailing the allegations.

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Liverpool said this week that it had submitted testimonials from 8,500 supporters to Uefa’s “independent review” of the near-disaster. Billy Hogan, Liverpool’s chief executive, said the evidence of supporters’ “upsetting experiences” identified overcrowding, inadequate travel information, problems at the perimeter control and turnstiles, “excessive riot police tactics”, 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 respond to questions from The Guardian about the proposed legal claims. It has said it will no longer answer questions about the incidents until the review has produced its report, which is expected at the end of November.

Uefa has said it sincerely apologizes “to all the fans who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing situations that night. No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again.”

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