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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Caborn and Parry hit back at Uefa
Richard Caborn (left) and Rick Parry have hit out at Uefa's criticism of Liverpool fans
Caborn (left) and Parry have hit out at Uefa's criticism of fans
Sports minister Richard Caborn has backed Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry after a Uefa report criticised the behaviour of Liverpool fans.

European football's governing body said Reds fans had been involved in more incidents than any other in Europe.

But Parry said: "The shortcomings in the management of the situation in Athens were apparent to anyone there."

And Caborn said: "Uefa must stop playing the blame game and stop pointing fingers at people."

Ticketless fans caused trouble at May's Champions League final against AC Milan in Athens, although Liverpool officials and fans criticised security at the game.

Uefa spokesman William Gaillard said the problems in Greece were typical of the behaviour of some Liverpool supporters during the past four years.

Spokesman William Gaillard said: "That was just the latest example. What other fans steal tickets from fellow fans or from the hands of children?"

But Parry hit back, saying: "What is most surprising about the latest comments from Mr Gaillard is that on the eve of the final, he quite rightly commented that Liverpool supporters 'have a tradition of good behaviour'.

You must ask yourself why at the Champions League, with the same conditions, there was no trouble with the Milan fans - only the Liverpool fans

Uefa spokesman William Gaillard
"Let's not forget that these same supporters who Mr Gaillard is claiming are now the worst in Europe were praised by Uefa President Michel Platini after our semi-final victory against Chelsea only last month.

"They were commended for their behaviour in Istanbul in 2005 and actually honoured by Uefa at a gala dinner in Monte Carlo in 2001 as joint Supporters of the Years with Alves after the Uefa Cup final."

Caborn, who will be presented with Uefa's report on Tuesday, said: "This is about finding solutions, not looking back and saying what has happened but more about how to stop this happening in the future.

"I have given this message to Rick Parry this morning in a phone call and I will be giving the very same message to Michel Platini when I see him on Tuesday."

In the report, Uefa paints a damning picture of the Anfield club's supporters' behaviour at the Champions League final.

Gaillard added: "We know what happened in Athens, and Liverpool fans were the cause of most of the trouble there.

"There have been 25 incidents involving Liverpool fans away from home since 2003 and these are in the report - most teams' supporters do not cause any trouble at all."

Liverpool have sent their own report to Uefa complaining about lax security measures at the final.

Many supporters with forged tickets or no tickets at all managed to gain access to the stadium.

That led to fans with legitimate tickets being denied entry to the ground.

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.

Former Conservative leader and Liverpool fan Michael Howard was at the game and said ticket checks at the stadium were "a joke".

How can Uefa choose a football ground without a turnstile - just a metal gate that opens - its just not football is it?"

Liverpool fanzine editor Andy Knott
Fans were already aggrieved over Uefa's ticket allocation for the Champions League final, with the governing body making 17,000 tickets available to each club for a stadium that had a capacity of 63,000.

Of those tickets, Liverpool were able to make just 11,000 available to fans because of obligations to sponsors and former players.

But Gaillard said: "You must ask yourself why at the same match, with the same conditions, there was no trouble with the Milan fans - only the Liverpool fans."

But the city of Liverpool hit back at Uefa's criticism.

Lord Mayor Paul Clark was quoted in the Liverpool Daily Post as saying: "Uefa appear to be trying to avoid the blame for the disorganisation of the final."

Les Lawson, spokesman for the official LFC supporters' club, said: "This is typical of Uefa. Rather than look at their own shortcomings, they want to shove the blame somewhere else.

"The fact they are not willing to stand up and take responsibility is worrying for fans, because that means they will never learn from their mistakes."

Council leader Warren Bradley said: "Uefa is dragging Liverpool's name through the mud to deflect attention from themselves.

"There should be a full and appropriate investigation. There is very little information about what actually went wrong.

"It was only a small minority who caused problems but the people at the top of Uefa think they have the divine right to criticise people."

Phil Hammond, of the Hillsborough Justice Support Group, added: "We condemn the behaviour of some fans, but it was not helped by the way the police acted, they made it worse. Uefa are not justified in making these comments."

Andy Knott from the Liverpool fanzine Red All Over told BBC Radio Five Live that both the fans and the authorities were to blame for what happened in Europe this season.

606: DEBATE

He said: "It's a culmination of everything. The Liverpool fans weren't innocent and a lot of them have got to have a look at themselves and take that into account.

"But at the same time Uefa have got to look at it and instead of trying to give token games to people with big stadiums, they've got to do it in a proper way.

"I mean how you can have a football ground without a turnstile - where it's just a metal gate that opens and you walk through - its just not football is it?"

Ahead of the final in Athens, Uefa president Michel Platini said: "I am convinced that both Liverpool and Milan fans will contribute to making the Athens final a landmark in festive behaviour.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and praise the fans who have attended the semi-finals for creating such a wonderful atmosphere at the matches.

"They have contributed in a positive manner to making the semi-finals such an exciting spectacle."



SEE ALSO
Uefa blames Reds fans for chaos
24 May 07 |  Liverpool
Liverpool tickets Q&A
24 May 07 |  Liverpool
AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool
23 May 07 |  Europe


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