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By Tony Attwood
There is something appallingly inevitable about Uefa saying it will refund Liverpool fans for their tickets after the Champions League final in Paris. Inevitable not just because it had to happen but also because there’s no compensation for the real losses to supporters on that day. Losses on transport costs, hotels, time off work. None of that will be compensated although the complete shambles was totally the fault of Uefa
But Uefa now say it has admitted fault, and offered compensation. As a result, the Uefa run competitions carry on with the same people in charge, as if nothing happened.
Which raises the question: do fans have any power against a monopoly supplier like Uefa? And the answer is pretty much no – aside from not going to games, and not paying BT Sport for the privilege of watching a match.
Now we should be clear that the condemnation of Uefa in the report on the problems at the Paris final was indeed damning. and there is no doubt the problems could have been foreseen.
And part of the problem though is with commentators, who are universally refusing to ask any questions starting with the word “Why?”
As in “Why was this stadium chosen?” and then digging a little deeper “Why were the arrangements for fans so appallingly inadequate?” and “Why did no one stress test the situation beforehand to see if the location of the ground, its entrances, its ticketing arrangements, and the experience and behaviour of the local police, would allow for a problem-free match?
Then at the media level we can ask, why are none of the commentaries (at least the ones I have seen) holding those to blame to account?
So let me suggest an answer. It comes from a recent headline from CNN, which read Nasser Al-Khelaifi: Paris Saint-Germain president implicated in a ‘kidnapping and torture’ investigation.
I’ve mentioned this before, and so you will know if you are a regular reader of my ramblings, that is the same Nasser Al-Khelaifi who is chairman of beIN Media Group, chairman of Qatar Sports Investments, a member of the organizing committee for the FIFA Club World Cup, and chairman of the European Club Association.
Does that make anyone concerned? Obviously not in the English media, since they are not reporting it.
And yet that’s only the start. Given the appalling cock-up at every level, from the decision to use this stadium, through to the arrangements on the day, why is no one questioning Uefa’s competence? After all, Uefa has simply grabbed control of football in Europe and everyone now kowtows to the organisation. But they don’t have to.
After all maybe the clubs could run the whole process themselves. Given that they have to run their own stadia for every match, wouldn’t that be more likely to work if the clubs ran things?
And I pause because that is exactly what is being proposed at the moment. That the clubs take over control of international affairs and kick Uefa out. Their current proposal is, as you might recall, a four tear league run by the clubs that are members of the league. It’s called Super League.
Of course, that would by-pass the FA – that well-known organisation full of people who never thought of checking stadia for fire safety until after the Bradford fire, who never thought of checking clubs to see if they were engaged in child sex abuse, who were utterly unable to run the Euro final at Wembley without a total and utter chaos. And it would bypass Uefa who felt that really the chaos at the Euro final and the Champions League final was just a minor incident. Give the fans their money back, now let’s move on, nothing to see here.
And they do it because they know they have the media on their side. The media will call out Uefa for the chaos in Paris and they report, as the Guardian says, “Three law firms representing almost 3,000 Liverpool supporters caught up in the disorganisation have previously told Uefa that legal action will be taken unless more substantial compensation than a ticket refund is paid.”
But that’s still not the point. The point is, “Is Uefa fit for purpose?” and the answer is clearly no, it is not. Because the Champions League final was the high point of Uefa’s year, and it was an utter and total disaster. Just as the Wembley final was a total and utter disaster in the Euros.
Uefa is totally incompetent when it comes to running the main things it is there to run. And yet neither the media nor the football authorities in England are willing to call it out. The only question left is “why won’t the media point the finger at Uefa?”
Could it be that Uefa is in collusion with the English media in the sense that any media that criticses Uefa doesn’t get press passes for the big matches? I don’t know if that is true, but if it is, that is really troubling.
Uefa tells the media, you’re not at any games if you call out Uefa as incompetent., and they all comply. OK maybe that is no true, but if not, why is there no coverage of the charges against Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the man with a hand in ever Uefa pie?
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