The Editorial Team Tuesday 26 September 2023, 10.37am
“Completely false evidence was presented in the investigation into the near-disaster at the 2022 Champions League final, at the Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid, to protect the UEFA security unit led by the president’s best friend,” This is the heavy accusation made by the then operations director of Uefa, Sharon Burkhalter-Lau. This is reported by the Guardian, which reports the memoirs produced by Burkhalter-Lau for the UEFA investigation. Words that will cause discussion, given the closeness of the security manager to the president Alexander Ceferin.
On May 28, 2022, the entry of fans into the French stadium risked turning into a real tragedy, the security management failed and thousands of fans saw their lives put at risk in the chaos generated by the nervousness of the supporters themselves and the management of the French police. To understand what happened, the Uefa decided to appoint a group of experts to examine what happened in the organization and in the security unit, the latter led, in fact, since 2021 by the best friend of Ceferin: Zeljko Pavlica.
The conclusions of the investigation assigned responsibility for the incident (in addition to the Paris police) to the events division managed by Burkhalter-Lau, who, rejecting the accusations against his team, stated that Pavlica and his team failed to show up for crucial safety meetings, including before the final, and failed to provide information crucial to the planning process. In the notes sent to the UEFA general secretary, Theodore Theodoridis, and three other senior officials, Burkhalter Lau he defined “completely false” UEFA’s evidence, saying it could not accept the conclusion that its events division was primarily responsible for the chaos. Pavlica, in his defence, said he was not aware of the crisis until the 8.45pm meeting in which Ceferin decided to delay kick-off, even though the security alert had already gone off around 5pm and chats whatsapp would prove it.
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