SOS Give Evidence

Today, Tuesday 21 June, the Spirit of Shankly chair Joe Blott and Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association chair Ted Morris will travel to Paris to give evidence in front of the French Senate Law and Culture committee.

Since the Champions League final on 28 May, representatives from the French authorities have been giving their version of events at the Stade de France. Now, finally, our voices will be heard.

Last week we were informed there was to be no testament from fans. But in tandem with Football Supporters Europe, SOS lobbied for the right to speak and the initial refusal was overturned. Real Madrid supporters will also have representation.

Joe and Ted will put on record the experiences endured by thousands of fans as a result of the shambolic organisation at the UCL final, highlighting the seismic failures of the French authorities and police, and UEFA.

Paris asked for this prestigious game to be played at the Stade de France, yet the routine and basic management for such a game failed. There were no stewards to direct people to safety before, during and after the game. Instead those same people were indiscriminately tear-gassed and beaten, with many fearing for their lives.

Since then the authorities, rather than admit their failings, have sought to pin culpability on to supporters with lies, and false and unsubstantiated allegations stemming from a misconception of football fans in general and Liverpool fans in particular. The hooligans they spent months preparing for simply did not exist. And when this became apparent, they did not alter their tactics but treated women, men, children and people with disabilities as violent criminals.

It was only the exemplary behaviour of Liverpool fans, who waited with patience and composure, that prevented a tragedy and deaths in crushes to get into the stadium. The collective memory and pain of the Hillsborough disaster meant Liverpool fans knew how to act to avoid catastrophe.

In arriving at the truth of what happened at the match, the following questions must be answered:

• Why was there a complete lack of signage between the RER station and stadium?

• Why are the transport figures used to make claims about fans unclear, unsubstantiated, and changing day by day?

• Why is the fact these transport figures include people going to the shops, going to work, or going out, not being challenged?

• Why did the route to the stadium differ from the one fans were instructed to follow on UEFA’s app?

• Why was the French Football Federation’s request to split fans into two separate pre-filter queues ignored?

• Why was the fact that the RER strike was going on not reacted to?

• Why were issues in the early afternoon caused by the RER strike not reacted to as soon as they became clear?

• Why did the authorities not try at any point to communicate with fans about the problems and possible solutions?

In short, there must be a full independent and transparent investigation into what happened and SOS, on behalf of all Liverpool fans, demand a full apology and retraction of the lies and smears.

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