The head of UEFA’s security and safety department and senior security official at the Champions League final were not actively involved in the Stade de France control center as the night erupted descended into chaos, it was claimed.
UEFA’s lower-ranking security officers on duty during the Paris final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on May 28 are said to have been working frantically to try to remedy the dangerous developments and huge static queues outside the stadium. However, there have been reports of the operation that Zeljko Pavlica, UEFA’s head of safety and security, and the delegated official for UEFA’s senior responsibility at the match, who would have been Zoran Cvrk, were obviously not involved in the control center.
A source with knowledge of the events within the control center claimed that a formal crisis meeting should have been called but was not and claimed that established protocols that would ensue were not followed.
At major UEFA club and national team finals, experts say responsibility for security in the stadium is delegated to a local organizing team, and that an experienced security manager on that pitch will take charge. UEFA delegates a senior manager to liaise with the command team, with the ability to step in if necessary. Control center officers have official liaison with all the bodies necessary to maintain safety and security during a major event, usually including representatives of the police, medical services, emergency services and local authorities.
Although the two senior UEFA officials are not necessarily expected to be in the control room for long periods, sources have told the Guardian they expect them to be visibly involved in the room. as the situation deteriorated.
UEFA declined to comment, saying all issues relating to the Paris events will be reviewed by the “independent review” it has established. At this stage, the action taken by Pavlica, Cvrk or other UEFA officials as the situation deteriorated, whether in the control center or elsewhere in the stadium, has not yet been fully established.
Liverpool and their supporters trust Spirit of Shankly have questioned the credibility and independence of the review by UEFA and its chairman, Portuguese MP Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, and have yet to accept his suitability for thoroughly investigate the failures of the final. Liverpool have reportedly received around 9,000 testimonials from supporters at the game, and club officials are believed to be growing in the belief that another disaster causing death and serious injury to their supporters was only narrowly averted.
Although a primary focus of any investigation is the management of the Paris organizers and in particular the French police, UEFA’s own safety and security operation has come under increasing scrutiny. Pavlica is the subject of increasingly harsh cronyism claims at UEFA, as he is a close friend of the organisation’s chairman, Aleksander Ceferin, from their native Slovenia, and under Ceferin’s presidency he has got his first permanent job at UEFA in 2016, then promoted to head of department. Last year. UEFA denied the cronyism allegations and said Pavlica was the “natural successor” when the former head of department retired. Cvrk is said to be generally liked in UEFA; he is a former police and security officer in Croatia who later served as the Croatian Football Federation’s security commissioner for 10 years and joined UEFA full-time as a safety and security adviser in 2020.
Although there are questions about the roles played by Pavlica and Cvrk on the night, two other UEFA junior security and safety officers, Wayne Nash and Lukasz Nalewaj, are said by people on the pitch having obviously worked tirelessly and tried everything to rectify the deterioration. situation.
Arrangements in the final went awry after French police held thousands of Liverpool fans in a bottleneck filter outside the stadium perimeter, ostensibly for ticket checks, but then gave up . This allowed young people from the neighborhood to approach the stadium directly, and many inserted themselves into the lines of supporters at the turnstiles which were then closed without explanation. for long periods. Thousands of fans with tickets were refused entry and gassed by the police.
Liverpool and their supporters continue to be infuriated by allegations made instantly overnight that the delayed kick-off was caused by ‘the late arrival of supporters’ and that ‘thousands’ of Liverpool supporters had fake tickets. Neither the French government nor UEFA have yet retracted these claims.
Ian Byrne, a Liverpool MP and supporter who was in the final, said: “But for the exemplary behavior of Liverpool supporters in horrific circumstances, there could have been another huge disaster like the Hillsborough disaster, and that chills me to the core of my soul. It seems clear that UEFA was not capable of handling this match, and that is why we need a fully independent investigation.”
In response to questions about the operations of the control room, UEFA said it would provide all information required for its review, which it said will examine “the decision-making, accountability and behaviors of all entities involved in the final”.
A spokesperson said: “UEFA will therefore wait for the independent report to be finalized before making any further comments on the matter.”
The Guardian asked via UEFA if Pavlica and Cvrk wished to comment and received no response.