FSF want to hear Athens experiences

You may have missed this article on the Football Supporters'
Federation website from last week. UEFA's poor organisation saw a stadium with
a relatively low capacity for modern football and a stadium without turnstiles
being used to host the biggest game in European football. Police were,
reportedly, disorganised. Tickets were so poor quality that forgeries were easy
to produce, and with so few tickets actually being allocated to fans the demand
was off the scale.

Some Liverpool fans, a small minority it has to be said,
acted in a way that they should be ashamed of. But the reports of these "fans"
trying to burst through into the stadium tell a tale of something that should
never have been allowed to happen.

There are idiots in every walk of life. Pick any decent
group of people and you will find some idiots amongst them. Liverpool fans are
renowned the world over for their good behaviour.  What happened in Belgium in 1985 wasn't a
reflection of how Liverpool fans were at the time. As a collective, Liverpool
fans are deeply sorry for what happened in that awful stadium that evening, but
there were other factors that seem to be glossed over far too easily. UEFA made
errors in their choice of stadium for that game, and they never suffered for those
errors themselves.

Last week UEFA proved they have learned very little indeed.

Imagine of Milan had been beaten by Manchester United in the
semi-final, and faced Liverpool. Or Chelsea for that matter. Imagine if Real
Madrid had got through to the final against Barcelona. Manchester United fans
had clashes with Roma fans earlier this year in both legs of their Champions League
knockout tie. Every club has a minority of idiots, some more idiots than
others. UEFA's policy on preventing trouble is to do nothing, then condemn the
idiots afterwards.

As football fans, if we can actually get tickets, we are
surely entitled to know that our safety has been given careful consideration.
UEFA don't seem to care. The idiot minority can cause trouble for the rest of
us – and UEFA wash their hands.

There's been much said about the forgeries, the touts, the
low capacity, the lack of checking tickets, the indifference of the police, the
fact UEFA even managed to stage this even in a city that was also hosting a
major conference at the same time.

The FSF want to know how it affected you. The details are
below, and they are inviting you to email them at athens2007@fsf.org.uk with
your experiences.

FSF to Collate Champions League Evidence Dossier

Thursday 24th May 2007

The Football
Supporters' Federation (FSF) is collating a dossier of supporters' experiences
at the Champions League final in Athens in an effort to ensure that the voice
of fans is heard and to learn the lessons for future finals.

The FSF, who provided
a "Fans' Embassy" advice and information service for Liverpool supporters
attending the game, has rejected the conclusions of UEFA spokesperson William
Gaillard. Gaillard blamed the behaviour of Liverpool fans for the problems at
the stadium, which included the use of batons and tear gas by police, and
numbers of fans with genuine tickets being denied access to the stadium.

Kevin Miles,
International Co-ordinator for the FSF said: "Blaming Liverpool fans' behaviour
is not only a premature sweeping generalisation, it's also well wide of the

"The issue of
forged tickets was a significant contributory factor, but it was one identified
well in advance and it should have been possible to have dealt with it. We
would condem anyone who produces forged tickets, but it's impossible to judge
whether anyone in possession of one has bought it in good faith or not.

"A well-organised
admission system prevents entry with a forgery – look at the World Cup in
Germany; but what use are holograms and bar codes on genuine tickets if these
aren't checked on entry?

"Why was a game of
this importance held in a stadium without turnstiles? The authorities in Athens
had no way of measuring how many people had entered the stadium at any stage;
this led to dangerous over-crowding inside, and fans with genuine tickets being
locked out.

"Of course, the
pressure on Liverpool fans to buy tickets on the black market in the first
place was exacerbated by the allocation system which gives so many tickets to
sponsors and the like."

Many Liverpool fans
faced rough treatment at the hands of the Greek police, including children
affected by that least discriminating of police measures, tear gas. Problems
involving inadequate stewarding, flight delays and cancellations were also
reported to the FSF's fans' embassy.

The FSF is appealing
to fans to come forward with their own first-hand witness testimony to build up
a comprehensive picture of events in Athens in the form of a dossier which will
be presented to UEFA and governmental authorities in an attempt to influence
big match arrangements in the future.

All supporters are
asked to email the FSF here with
details of their experiences in Athens.

Read the FSF Press
Release on events in Athens here.

(Taken from http://www.fsf.org.uk/news/news0040-eventsinathens.html).