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Champions League final 2022: No lessons learned after Liverpool fans mis-treated, say UK police

A UK police study, which has been ongoing since the 2020/21 season, analysed supporters' experiences as they follow their teams in Europe; groups from Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal involved; France, Italy and Greece criticised, but Germany praised for fan treatment

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The head of the UK football policing unit has praised fan groups for working with authorities to try to improve conditions for those supporters travelling abroad.

UK police say lessons haven't been learned following the mistreatment of Liverpool supporters during the 2022 Champions League final in Paris, and that it is still "not unusual" for fans of English clubs to raise concerns about their safety and treatment while following their club in Europe.

A new police survey, seen by Sky Sports News, has analysed supporters' experiences from all English clubs involved in European competition since the 2020/21 season.

Official supporters groups at Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leicester and Brighton all contributed to the police study.

Those supporter testimonies - centred around the three pillars of "safety, security and service" - have been corroborated by the Dedicated Football Officers who have travelled alongside the fans.

The survey showed there were still problems around safety and police treatment highlighted by supporters of English clubs at a number of venues in France, and also in Italy and Greece. Transport provision seems to have been the biggest problem in Turkey.

By contrast, supporter experiences in Germany were generally very positive.

Supporters queue to get into the Stade de France
Image: Supporters faced long queues to get into the stadium, which UEFA initially blamed on "thousands of fans with fake tickets"

"Following the events of the 2022 UEFA Champions League final in Paris and the mistreatment of Liverpool fans, it was hoped that the subsequent reviews and outcry would mark a watershed in the experience of English supporters following their teams in Europe," the report from the UK Football Policing Unit states.

"Subsequent events, in particular the arrangements for Manchester City supporters seeking to attend the 2023 final in Istanbul, suggested this wasn't the case and that lessons were not being learned.

"Whilst these examples were particularly high profile and serious, it is not unusual for English supporters to report concerns about their safety and treatment at fixtures on the continent."

Some comments by fans of English clubs were damning of their experiences in a number of countries.

Even after the high-profile criticism of police and the authorities in Paris, France is one of the most heavily criticised.

"The treatment by the police was disgusting and fans were tear-gassed," one anecdotal experience claimed. "Unnecessarily heavy policing in the town pre-match. Security on exit was intimidating."

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Despite having provided Liverpool fans with refunds for last year's Champions League final, Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol says UEFA still has questions to answer in the aftermath of the chaotic events

"Not a safe venue for a family to visit," was another experience logged by a fan group from an English club in a different French city. Others suggested fans were "kettled" after the game, and forced onto coaches into the city centre even if some supporter hotels were elsewhere.

In Germany, which is hosting this summer's Euros, police and club stewards were described as "efficient and particularly helpful after the game." One club's supporter group said "[clubs and police in] Germany are always well organised."

Similarly, another club's supporters said of their trip to Germany: "The fan experience in general is very good and the stadium feels safe."

In Greece, another English club's supporters' group said they felt intimidated and threatened by the local riot police, saying: "CS gas was used against home fans but then blew onto away fans, some of whom were prevented from returning to stadium by police [after leaving to] escape its effects."

In Italy, a number of English clubs' fans spoke of being "kettled" by "over the top" policing, facing poor or non-existent public transport after the game, but that the high numbers of riot police actually made them feel safer.

Liverpool fans stuck outside Stade de France
Image: Fans that follow their team across Europe still worry for their safety and treatment, according to a UK police survey

Experiences in Spain were mixed, with some supporters referencing "a surprisingly friendly atmosphere and no issues" whilst others talked of their treatment being "a disgrace of the highest order."

One English club's supporters group reported they had experienced in Spain: "The most over-zealous and aggressive policing I have seen. Fans were threatened outside the ground, multiple examples of fans being assaulted and struck with batons for no valid reason."

As well as Germany, English fans largely had praise for their experiences in Austria, the Netherlands and Poland.

The UK police plan to use this report to lobby UEFA, as well as local authorities and clubs abroad via the National Football Information Point, to push for better treatment for fans of English clubs in the future.

"This report will provide the basis for regular updates by supporters and UK police officers and a source of local information to those fans travelling abroad," the report states. "It will be updated for every game played in Europe [where supporters complete the survey]."

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