OFFICIALS at UEFA last night launched their strongest attack yet on Liverpool FC fans – claiming they were the worst in Europe, in a report due to be handed to the Government.
Supporters across the city reacted with fury after it emerged the football governing body was to present a dossier to sports minister Richard Caborn.
The report, which has been compiled by undercover police, claims Liverpool fans have been involved in 25 incidents at away matches across the Continent over the last four years – more than any other team.
It says the trouble outside the Olympic Stadium – where the Champions League final was staged – was not an isolated incident.
People with counterfeit tickets managed to get into the ground, while some Liverpool fans with genuine tickets were forced to miss the match.
There were no turnstiles or stringent checks of tickets outside the ground, despite a warning from Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry a week before the game.
Uefa spokesman William Gaillard said: “The incidents involving Liverpool fans have been well known to us before the trouble at the Champions League final.
“That was just the latest example. What other set of fans steal tickets from their fellow supporters or out of the hands of children?
“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.
“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.”
The report, which is said to de- tail all 25 incidents, has not been released. Liverpool Football Club last night defended its fans. A spokesman said: “The short- comings in the management of the situation in Athens were apparent to anyone who was there.
“These latest comments from Uefa should not deflect attention from that reality.”
Mr Gaillard’s comments caused anger among Liverpool fans, who demanded a full investigation into the events leading up to Liverpool’s defeat against AC Milan.
Les Lawson, secretary of the Official LFC Supporters Group, 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 it means they will never learn from their mistakes.”
Council leader Warren Bradley said Uefa was “dragging Liverpool’s name through the mud to deflect attention from themselves”. He said: “It’s absolutely outrageous. Big governing bodies like Uefa always look for scapegoats and never accept any blame
“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 a divine right to criticise people.”
Liverpool fan Cllr Peter Millea, who travelled to Athens to watch his tea, last night said he was appalled by Uefa’s latest “trick”.
He said: “It seems whenever there is anything to do with English fans, they can pile the blame on us. That sort of behaviour does happen with fans from other countries. You only have to look at the trouble between Denmark and Swedish fans over the weekend.
“They got it wrong. In Istanbul, many more fans travelled to watch the final and there was no trouble.”
Lord Mayor Cllr Paul Clark, who was at the game in Athens to represent the city, said the comments were disgraceful.
He said: “Uefa appears to be trying to avoid the blame for the disorganisation of the final. To make matters worse, instead of looking at its own faults, Uefa is blaming the people of Liverpool.
“Saying this is typical of Liverpool fans is unfair and reflects badly on the image of the city.”
Phil Hammond, of the Hillsborough Justice Support Group, has spoken out against Liverpool fans who ran riot outside the Olympic Stadium, but says Uefa were not justified in their latest comments.
He said: “We condemn that behaviour. But it was not helped by the way the police acted, they made it worse. Uefa are not justified in making these comments.”
SEE footage of the troubles outside the Athens Olympic Arena, and videos from Liverpool's trip to the Final at www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/athens 2007