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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Uefa blames Reds fans for chaos
Liverpool fans outside the Olympic Stadium
Liverpool fans with tickets were turned away from the stadium
Uefa has blamed Liverpool fans for the problems before Wednesday's Champions League final against AC Milan.

Riot police in Athens used tear gas and batons outside the Olympic Stadium as fans were turned away because they were told the stadium was already full.

Uefa spokesman William Gaillard said: "The behaviour of the Liverpool fans is in the end responsible for the problems that took place before the game."

The British Embassy in Athens vowed to take up the matter.

606: DEBATE

Simon Gass, the British ambassador to Greece, told BBC Radio Five Live: "The organisers had a plan which involved three cordons to try to ensure that people who didn't have tickets were not able to get into the stadium.

"Clearly there was some element of breakdown where those fake tickets appeared to be legitimate - that's something Uefa must look at.

"The vast majority of fans with proper tickets got in but even if a small minority did not, that's not satisfactory."

Sports minister Richard Caborn will raise the problems with Uefa president Michel Platini at a meeting in two weeks.

He said: "I have a lot of sympathy with the Liverpool fans who paid their hard-earned money for genuine tickets but couldn't get into the ground.

"The reasons for this need an urgent explanation. We have already raised the matter with the Greek authorities through our embassy in Athens and government officials are also talking with Uefa.

"I will also be putting this issue high on the agenda at a meeting I am to have with Michel Platini in Brussels in two weeks."

Disorder broke out before kick-off when fans were held back because of congestion outside the ground.

Police told fans going through the penultimate checkpoint to slow down or even stop moving, then riot police formed a line to stop other fans joining queues to move through the checkpoint.

The Milan supporters didn't face the same problems because they didn't behave in the same way

Uefa spokesman William Gaillard

They were then told they would not be allowed in as the ground was full because fans with forged tickets, or without tickets at all, had managed to get past security.

Gaillard told BBC Radio Five Live: "The behaviour of the supporters before the game made it extremely difficult for the police who didn't want to use brutal methods and they have to be praised for that.

"To control the fact that so many fake tickets were around as we warned but this was all done in Britain."

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard was at the game - which Liverpool lost 2-1 - and he said: "I didn't think the match should have been held at the stadium.

"It's not a football stadium and is not equipped to cope with that number of people.

"Ticket checks were a joke. Many people with valid tickets were not allowed in.

"That is not acceptable and Uefa really need to look at their procedures and make sure everything is all in order.

"As far as I'm aware no-one was hurt, and that's a mercy, but it's no thanks to the Greek authorities, and I'm afraid there was a large measure of incompetence."

606: DEBATE
LI

But Gaillard responded: "It is very easy to say it is not a suitable stadium, coming from the man that invented the poll tax.

"The Milan supporters didn't face the same problems because they didn't behave in the same way.

"The kind of pushing that was going on and the attempts to jump over barriers - imagine if we had turnstiles, we could have had a tragedy.

"More than three hours before the game there were incidents at the Liverpool end with people trying to get in either with fake tickets or jumping over the barriers.

"It is obvious that at one point the police felt overwhelmed and it is much to their credit there were no dangerous incidents.

"I am very sorry for what happened to fans who had regular tickets but at the same time there is a collective responsibility in terms of behaviour.

"This area was all for Liverpool fans and the bulk were obviously extremely honest people who had got tickets in the right way and observed the rules.

"But unfortunately because of a minority who did not they found themselves in a very uncomfortable and unpleasant position."

Gaillard defended Uefa against any responsibility for the problems, adding: "The only responsibility we could have is that we did not choose a stadium with 250,000 seats, but unfortunately they do not exist."

SEE ALSO
AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool
23 May 07 |  Europe
Liverpool tickets Q&A
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Benitez's big challenge
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BBC pundits on Athens final
23 May 07 |  Europe
Liverpool Player Rater
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Comment: Reds fall short
23 May 07 |  Football
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