Sunday, December 10, 2023

Quick Champions League final thoughts + UEFA shambles

Morning, a quick Sunday blog.

I watched the Champions League final in a garden last night, and I really only started paying attention in the second half. I don’t really have any considered thoughts on the game to be honest. Real Madrid’s goal looked borderline offside but it was a smart move and Vinicius is a dangerous player who tucked it away well.

Liverpool threw on their subs. There was talk of Oxlade-Chamberlain and I was thinking ‘Imagine you need to save a Champions League final and you have to bring the Ox on’, but then towards the end Real Madrid put on Dani Ceballos so football once again reminds us it is a weird sport.

I like Carlo Ancelotti, so I’m pleased for him. He seems like a good man who lost his way and ended up at Everton (how?!) but now has found redemption, or something. As for Real Madrid, their pedigree in this competition is ridiculous. Liverpool’s is quite impressive obviously, but if the Champions League trophy is a giant, freshly laid turd, Real are the flies who are always first on the scene.

As for the issues experienced by fans, especially Liverpool fans, I think first and foremost the focus needs to be on UEFA, the organisers, the police and all the rest. It’s too easy to point and say ‘Oh Liverpool fans’ – and at this point, we should know better. I’ve been reading some eye-witness testimony from supporters who were there in plenty of time and couldn’t get in. If you’ve been at games in Europe you’ll know that fans of English clubs are treated with borderline disdain on a good day.

I remember being at the Bernebeu in 2006 when we beat Real Madrid and from our section were herded out of the stadium down one set of stairs. It got a bit crushy at one point, so I asked a policeman who was guarding one of the many empty stairwells we passed if we could go down there to relieve the pressure. I don’t remember exactly what he said but the implication was ‘Keep moving you piece of shit or I’ll crack your head with this baton, and if you get crushed, tough’.

Not just a few weeks ago, UEFA presided over an event in Sevilla, with 40C+ heat and no water for people to drink, so let’s not buy into any of their bullshit about how they care for fans. Reports of gates being closed, fans being hit with pepper spray, and the potential for crushes are rife, from fans and journalists who were there, and in this day and age, with all the history, to have scenes like that at a major final is nothing short of a disgrace.

I’m sure it was really unpleasant for those fans on what should have been a day to celebrate (regardless of the result), and from the sounds of it, it’s lucky that we’re not talking about anything worse this morning. If you want to scoff at fans being treated like that it’s up to you, but it could be you or your Arsenal supporting friends/family at some point in the future.

It’s rare that fans find solidarity with each other on much, but stuff like this shouldn’t be about rivalry. UEFA and the police, deliberately or not, created a potentially very dangerous situation last night, and their attempts to blame the people they put in danger show us exactly what kind of people they are and what kind of organisation they are.


Have a great Sunday.

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