Gerrard: UEFA wrong, our fans are fantastic

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has joined in the
condemnation of UEFA over their ill-thought-out comments in which they branded
Liverpool fans as the worst in Europe.

UEFA are the current governing body for football in Europe,
and their mouthpiece William Gaillard showed yesterday that he has a deep
dislike of British people, not just English football supporters or Liverpool FC
fans. He said, "It is for sure more of a British problem because every year
when there is a British club usually the problem is there." In saying that he
was ignoring countless incidents at football games under UEFA's jurisdiction
where fans from other countries, of clubs and of national teams, have thrown
fireworks and other missiles at players, fought in the stands, injured referees
and just caused trouble in general. Every country and every club has a number
of idiots following it. UEFA employ one – at least one. It's up to those in
charge of organising matches to ensure the idiots can't spoil it for everyone
else. Gaillard also said, as part of his botched attempt at washing UEFA's
hands of their cock-up: "What other set of fans steal tickets from their fellow
supporters, or out of the hands of children?" He's speaking about something
that we all heard anecdotes of. A scally would snatch a ticket off a fan and
run off with it. Except he'd then be chased by at least half-a-dozen fans who
would make sure they got the ticket back for the original owners. The police
ignored all this, unable to cope with the event. Other anecdotes include
intimidation and threats against Liverpool supporters who were outnumbered by
Milan fans, the Italian side's minority of idiots doing what idiots do best.
Gaillard forgot to mention those anecdotes.

Gerrard was angry about comments which tarred all the supporters
with the same brush – and in doing so tarred his own family and friends:  "What UEFA have said really upsets me. We've
travelled everywhere together for the six or seven years I've been in the first
team and from what I've seen, their behaviour has been fantastic."

He went on: "I had friends and family at the final. Their
opinion was that the organisation wasn't good enough. I'm sure when it all gets
broken down, they will conclude the organisation wasn't good enough and maybe a
minority of Liverpool fans let themselves down but as far as I'm concerned the
European Cup Final has to be in a bigger stadium with better organisation."

The bungling fools at UEFA also managed to organise the
tournament so it clashed with a major pharmaceutical conference. Athens did not
have enough hotel rooms. The Liverpool party were not given the rooms they had
been promised when representatives had flown out to make arrangements a couple
of weeks earlier. The club did not get enough rooms. No official statement on
that has been made, but Gerrard hinted about it: "Our set-up wasn't good enough
either. Our hotel facilities weren't good enough."

Sports Minister Richard Caborn said UEFA were wrong to blame
it all on Liverpool. Errors were made, regardless of who was at fault, and
these errors in many cases were predicted ahead of the game and could have been
avoided. It's time for a review says Caborn: "It's time to stop playing the
blame game and see how we can stop these things happening again. Rather than
spend any more time apportioning blame and pointing fingers we need to work out
solutions. It was not just with Liverpool that there were problems last season
in Europe – Manchester United also had problems in Rome and Lens."

Caborn wants to be careful about only mentioning incidents
involving sides from Britain – that is exactly how UEFA want to play this.
Gaillard is still reeling from the 2005-06 tournament which saw five English
teams allowed to qualify (although Everton did not make it past the
qualifiers). He said at the time that it would never happen. When it did he was
made to look foolish. He's still not learned how to be more careful in
revealing his true feelings and has been made to look foolish again this week,
although his current boss is perhaps more supportive. Platini got the top job
in Europe by promising the less fashionable nations that he would help them get
into the competition proper by ditching the rule that allows some countries to
have four teams in the competition. Platini is not exactly the biggest fan of
English football or of Britain as a whole. Caborn needs to ensure he has
evidence of all the incidents involving teams from other countries; otherwise
he's likely to leave Britain, certainly England, in a vulnerable position in
terms of European football.