As an Everton fan, you would expect me to be supporting Liverpool fans, but I was so incensed this morning to hear about the dreadful way in which UEFA handles the ticketing for the Champions League final that I felt compelled to write about it.
On the radio this morning the press officer for UEFA called William Gaillard refused to admit that UEFA had any responsibility for the problems occurring an squarely blamed Liverpool fans. However, anyone with any knowledge of what UEFA did and what they allowed to happen can see what the true story is.
Firstly, UEFA blame Liverpool fans for turning up without tickets. The questions is why did they turn up ? The reason for this was because both Liverpool and AC Milan were offered only just over half the tickets, some 34,000 out of a 63,000 capacity. by doing this and allowing 29,000 tickets to be available to fans of other clubs and ultimately be sold on the black market by touts, UEFA created a reason for fans to go over to Greece without tickets.
The second obvious floor in UEFA's argument was the choice of stadium. The olympic stadium in Athens has no turnstiles and no way of really controlling who can and cannot get in to it. the police set up a taped of cordon with "Police Incident" tape and barriers suitable for pavements, not protecting a major sporting event. given this, was it any surprise that people could get over the fence ?
What were the police doing ? Why did fans get in to the ground when never having to display their tickets or simply hold them above their heads ? If UEFA knew touts were operating, as indeed they did know because they warned fans about them, why did the police not check all tickets ?
Finally, I heard a UK policeman last night on Five Live saying that the Greek police did not have any UV lights to check if tickets were actually valid (under ultra violet the tickets show a mark) and he said that people who had bought real tickets had nothing to worry about. Given that that is the case, how come hundreds of Liverpool fans with valid tickets were excluded from entering ?
Put simply, blaming genuine fans with real tickets because UEFA were incompetent in managing fans properly is a bloody poor way for UEFA to respond and they should be ashamed of themselves.