Jürgen Klopp offered his reaction to the publication of the UEFA independent report into the events that surrounded the Champions League final in Paris last year.
Jürgen, the UEFA independent review has released its report into the events surrounding the Champions League final in Paris. What is your reaction?
I think it’s super-important that, finally, it’s official, let me say it like this. I’m not sure, at least in my life, there was never a case with more evidence, where I knew more about [it] when I was not directly involved, because I was on the other side of the wall in the stadium, pretty much. But families, friends, they were all there and everybody knew how our supporters behaved, but it really feels good, it feels just right that it’s now official and everybody knows it now because there were so many things said after the game, which we knew they were wrong. It was just lies. So, I’m really happy that it’s finally said officially.
How vital is it now that UEFA and the authorities implement the recommendations made in the report as a matter of critical urgency?
Yeah, there’s no chance to ignore that. There were big mistakes made. That they had to change the venue a few months before that actually when it happened, I understand and that’s difficult. But to put it into a stadium which is not used regularly, so just for some big events and stuff like this and not all the time... So, as an example, I’m German and this is why I say it, but as an example if you used Berlin – a big city, enough hotels, is used to having every two weeks big events with 70,000 people in the stadium and stuff like that, it would have been exactly the same, but the supporters wouldn’t have been from Germany, but from Spain and England [and] that would be the only difference. So, there was a good chance to find a better venue than [this one in] France. So, this in the first place – that they didn’t oversee it, the problems they had with the experience of the venue, I am not sure, 16 years ago or something like that with another Champions League final where they knew it didn’t work out too well, I think that is the first problem and all the other things [followed]. Big events are organised so often and when you are under pressure, you have time pressure, you still have to make the right decisions and that’s [a] responsibility for specific people. And so yes, I hope they listen, I hope they learn.
More than 9,000 supporters contacted the club to document what they experienced that night. For many, that would have been difficult to relive, but how important were they in ensuring we have reached this point?
Extremely important. The only good thing in all the bad things that happened there is that many journalists were there in that crowd. So independent, no Liverpool shirt, just being there and wanting to do their job and they knew exactly that it was wrong as well and I think that helped because otherwise they probably all would have to go through that as well. I think we were really lucky that not more happened. It was a day of, I’m not sure how you say it, but the day of ‘goodwill lies’ – when you have to lie to protect the other person. Because we all had messages from our people outside before the game and then the game got delayed, so we started looking at the smartphone again, ‘What’s happening?’ We knew because people couldn’t get in and everybody said, ‘No, I’m fine, I’m fine...’ and nobody was fine. Nobody was fine. Then the game started and I heard from people that everybody who was in the stadium was just there and thought, ‘I made it somehow, wow.’ It was not the mood you are in when you want to watch a Champions League final. So what it all took away and the strangest thing is that after the game, like an hour after the game, the least important information on that night was that we lost the final. That’s really crazy. And that shows just how it all went.
Just to expand on that point, the report has highlighted the impeccable conduct and behaviour of the supporters on the night in preventing serious injury and deaths. What is your message to those fans?
Thank you. Staying calm in a situation where nobody really can stay calm, tear gas in your eyes, pressure from up front, from the side, from behind, being locked in between thousands of people and not pushing like crazy, staying calm, is a massive thing to do and an extremely difficult thing to do. And then getting out of it and getting blamed for that, it’s horrible. It’s really horrible. So there are some jobs to do and I hope they do it properly because these kind of events should be a pure joy to watch.
You pay a lot of money, it’s a lot of work to qualify, then you go there, everything is a positive mood and in the end you’re just happy to arrive somehow in the stadium when you made it. When you hear it first time, you cannot believe it, that that all happened in that time, but it did. So, yes, there’s a lot to improve and I hope everybody learned from it.