UpdateBilly Hogan explains latest developments on UCL final issues
Liverpool FC CEO Billy Hogan has tonight provided a further update on the club's response to the issues experienced by fans at the Champions League final in Paris.
Billy, thanks for joining us again this evening to update supporters on what’s happened since Saturday’s game. Firstly, UEFA announced last night that it has commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding the Champions League final. Can you give us some more information on that?
As we mentioned yesterday, we wrote to UEFA yesterday to ask them to instruct a suitable person or persons to conduct a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the events pre- and post-match in Paris. We were aware they had commissioned a report, per the media statements, and we received a letter from UEFA today confirming that and actually I’ve had a conversation this evening with UEFA on that point. There isn’t a lot of detail at this stage, it’s an evolving process obviously, but we want to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to getting the facts about what happened on Saturday in Paris. Just as an example, this may just be a difference in language, but in our mind we requested an independent investigation rather than an independent report. So, again, detail is really important here and we’ll be following up with UEFA on that over the coming days.
Yesterday the club launched an online form for supporters who went to Paris for them to complete and register their experiences in writing and with photographs and video evidence. What has the response been so far?
It’s been incredible. As of right now, Tuesday late afternoon, just over 24 hours the form has been up and we have had over 5,000 forms completed and submitted, which is really astounding. First off, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to submit their experiences. Obviously it’s a tremendous amount of information so we’d ask you to bear with us as we work through that detail. But I’ve spent time over the course of today reviewing some of the information and, honestly, I’m horrified by the way some men, women, children – able bodied, less able bodied – have been indiscriminately treated over the course of Saturday.
I think the volume of completed forms in the last 24 hours really demonstrates how fans want to support the investigation process and, importantly, gather real evidence of what happened both prior and post-kick-off. I do think it’s important to recognise we’ve all been rightly focused on the access issues at Stade de France; I think it’s also important we don’t lose sight of what happened after the match. I think we’ve all seen videos, photos, I’ve read a number of stories of absolutely horrific experiences leaving the stadium as well – crimes being committed, muggings taking place. Nobody should experience what our fans experienced both before or after the match. In our minds, obviously this is wholly unacceptable, which is why it’s important we create this body of experiences, which clearly must be included in the independent investigation.
And finally, on that point I’d just like to reiterate the point I made yesterday, which is from everyone in this football club to every supporter who has been impacted by the events around Saturday: thank you. Thank you for sharing your experiences via the online form. It has been incredibly difficult in certain cases to read some of the experiences. Thank you for supporting each other through what has been a horrible and traumatic event.
There has been a lot of people over the last few days – experts, professionals, journalists – speaking out in the media and giving their views on what happened on Saturday and, specifically, the operational management of the final. What’s your take on those comments?
I’ve heard a number of them and would say thank you to those that are speaking out and sharing their experience and expertise in the media, in particular. This all forms part of making sure the facts are heard about what happened in Paris, listening to the experts. I think that’s critical. It’s critical as part of this process. Those that have hosted global sporting events, those that have experience of professional crowd management, it’s incredibly helpful to understand how other events are managed and just hear best practices in terms of what happens in the industry across sports and entertainment. So, I think it’s incredibly important that everyone keeps talking and sharing their experience. Once we know that the independent investigation is under way and in the right way, that everybody contributes as much evidence as is possible. Again, our objective in calling for this independent investigation was and still is to ensure that all the relevant facts are listened to, all the relevant parties are listened to, the truth is established and the lessons are learned so this never happens again.
Given those experiences you talked about, is there anywhere that fans who have been affected by what happened on Saturday can go to receive some help and support?
Yes. That is something we’ve been talking about over the course of the last couple of days. Firstly, my heartfelt thoughts go out to anybody who had the experience of those unacceptable events on Saturday evening. We’re working right now with our Foundation team, who run outreach programmes and crisis support, to see how to guide people towards the appropriate support for those fans affected. People may be aware of the work that the Foundation has done with Spirit of Shankly specifically on mental health, for example. Our Foundation team, working with specialist organisations, has expertise in this area and we’ll be publishing these details across our channels as soon as possible.
One other really important point that I do want to raise is we’re also aware that there were many fans who were injured on Saturday evening and we’ve asked UEFA for their matchday log, which includes any medical incidents for the night, so we can reach out to those supporters and their families to help if we can.
Billy, thanks again for joining us this evening and for providing us with the latest updates on this.
I’m obviously very happy to provide the relevant updates to our fans and I’d encourage everybody to keep an eye on our club and social channels, and of course we can talk again here when appropriate.