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Sport

No sanctions seen for Liverpool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Liverpool will not face any sanctions by UEFA following a report into security problems at last month’s Champions League Final, senior sources at European football’s governing body said on Monday.

This file picture shows a general view of a Liver bird, the emblem of Liverpool Football Club outside Anfield, Liverpool, October 23, 2006. Liverpool will not face any sanctions by UEFA following a report into security problems at last month's Champions League Final, senior sources at European football's governing body said on Monday. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Citing the document, to be submitted to the Minister for Sport Richard Caborn on Tuesday, sources confirmed no action will be taken against the club, despite evidence that a number of Liverpool fans were to blame for the trouble in Athens.

“The report draws up some proposals, not sanctions. There will be no disciplinary action taken against Liverpool,” one UEFA source told Reuters.

UEFA previously blamed Liverpool fans with forged tickets or those with no ticket for forcing their way into Athens’ Olympic Stadium on May 23 for the match against AC Milan, while dozens of fans with genuine tickets were refused entry.

When Liverpool fans tried to enter the stadium, the situation threatened to escalate out of control and Greek police fired tear gas and used batons.

But although the report acknowledges that the trouble “was at the Liverpool end” and their opponents “were not to blame”, it does not point the finger at the club or the majority of its fans.

“The report is more of a narrative on what happened from start to finish and proposes how to deal with it better in the future such as better police cooperation and a better strategy,” another source said.

Ironically, the report will highlight the benefits of police tactics already used by British police forces at football matches, the source said.

BLAME GAME

UEFA, Liverpool and British authorities will hope news of the report’s contents will calm tensions in the aftermath of the match which has led to a war of words over who was to blame for the trouble.

The atmosphere worsened ahead of Tuesday’s report when a top UEFA official indicated that the document would identify Liverpool as a problem club, pointing to 25 incidents involving the English club.

However, both UEFA and British government officials said they were not seeking a confrontation when Caborn meets UEFA President Michel Platini on Tuesday in Brussels.

Caborn called on Monday for “an end to the blame game”.

“This is not about UEFA versus Liverpool or UEFA versus England fans, we must all stop playing the blame game and stop pointing fingers at people,” he told Reuters.

William Gaillard, advisor to UEFA President Michel Platini and the official at the centre of the dispute, told Reuters:

“Yes the troublemakers were Liverpool fans, but these were a minority of Liverpool fans. As I said the day after the final, 99 percent of Liverpool fans are fine, but this minority causes the problems.

“They need to be taught that attending a game is not a right it is a privilege which you must pay for. You can’t take a tube in London for instance without for a proper ticket.”

GATES OPENED

The report will say there was a moment of panic when the Greek police rightly opened the gates to prevent further trouble, stating that “a few hundred of the many thousands of supporters took the law into their own hands”.

“The report says Liverpool stewards, who are capable at home in their own stadium, were unable to be influential on the night,” the source said,

The UEFA document also includes evidence from various Liverpool fans with legitimate tickets who were forced to sit on each other’s laps -- or stand up -- as a result of forged duplicate tickets.

A second report and more detailed report will be collated and sent to the Home Office in the coming weeks, UEFA said.

It confirmed that a probe was also continuing into how around 800 Liverpool supporters got tickets in the Milan end which were known to be distributed to AC Milan.

Additional reporting by Mike Collett in London and Mark Ledsom in Berne

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