UEFA, the police, the French ministers… all have spread gross lies. Only the fans prevented the disaster | Neil Atkinson

IIt helps that you were there. It helps that there are phones, cameras, authority figures. It helps that former footballers, friends of footballers, politicians and executives are there. It helps that Sky Sports were amazing at capturing him and the fans themselves better.

It helps that football event attendees are now more middle class, better connected, own the means of production and know how to describe what is happening to them in real time.

It prevents BT Sports, which broadcast the game, from being appalling, hinders because the first report is the most important – with presenter Jake Humphrey uncritically repeating UEFA’s lies – but it helps that you can check your phone and see that Humphrey was wrong.

It takes us forward through the real-life years where reporters who came early predicted there would be trouble, watched those problems emerge, and documented it all live. It means we can use the words for more important things. It helps, because you can start with the front foot.

The front foot: UEFA were liars and their apology on Friday did not cover the lies they told moments before the scheduled kick-off time. Their apologies did not cover their desire to blame the supporters first, their paying customers. Their apologies did not clean the bridges and reminded us that these are not people we can consider to be acting in good faith.

Why should we believe that their magazine is independent or that the man who runs it is independent? Why do we need a review led by UEFA when UEFA itself is among those to be investigated? They are anything but neutral when, as they clarified on May 28 at 8:55 p.m., their first move is to blame their customers.

The snub: the French ministers of the interior and sports redoubled their lies before the French Senate on Wednesday, slipping in numbers, light in evidence. They said Real Madrid fans weren’t affected. On Friday, Real Madrid made a statement to the contrary.

French ministers said they and their police were not to blame. Instead there were, they said, 40,000 people who might have had fake tickets that should have disappeared in the Scottish mist, who never reached a still not full Liverpool end at 9.30pm. Fake people or fake tickets?

Yet the tone and approach of ministers betrayed the game. People attending a sporting event needed to be watched as a serious issue above all else. This is the essence of the number of people who attend football matches are treated. The enemy, straight away.

Front foot: The truth is that if it hadn’t been for the reaction from Liverpool fans before the game, the end result would have been disastrously worse. Football fans learn to control themselves, to care. This Saturday evening was a repeated act of care. Care will need to continue – Liverpool Football Club announced last week that it would support mental health charities and resources for those caught up in events.

It helps that you saw the attendees of the most important club football game of the year treated with utter contempt. It helps that you saw tear gas being used against everyone, including children, around the stadium before, after and at the fanpark too. It helps to see what it’s like to be watched as an enemy, as something sub-human.

A policeman like that, with my means of media production, my white skin, my middle-class assignments, my flowery shirts and my camera, I always remember that many people are policed ​​like that in Western democracies every day. Because we are front and center and you were there, we might just get the apologies and the missing fixes soon.

But what about the police where we are not? What about the segments of our societies where the police are like this every day, where you are always the enemy, where you never consent to your treatment? Another truth from what emerged from the Senate on Wednesday is that the issue is now binary. Every politician is either in favor of policing by consent or acting to make life scarier and more violent than it already is.

Policing by consent requires active measures to encourage support from each community. You deserve respect. In the whole world. This is not to say that these experiences are the same. The underlying principle, however, that the police are accountable to those they claim to serve, is universal. And that underlying principle is in tatters around us as we see riot shields, guns and clouds of tear gas. Policing only functions as a ‘we’ and part of the reason May 28 shook so many people was that it was clear there was outright hatred on the part of the police.

Communities around the world are regularly monitored in this way. It hovers over days and degrades lives. It seems that the tendency of those in authority to accept the actions and opinions of those charged with keeping us in order is a flaw that is hard to change. Shocking events are needed. We need consistent, progressive and cautious policing that respects the consent of all citizens to be policed.

However, football-specific things matter. The events of the 2022 Champions League final didn’t come as a big surprise. Beyond keeping order, stewards are too often treated poorly, underpaid, and uninformed about how best to direct people.

What was different in Paris is that you were there. Journalists and executives, officials and those at the top of the game have seen for themselves what it means to be a kettle for no reason for two hours to have the temerity to watch a sport.

Football is a melting pot. This is not the cause and we cannot be responsible for the answers. But if there’s one thing we know about football, it’s that we can’t trust those in charge to care. We will take care of each other and show care.

Neil Atkinson is the host of the Anfield Wrap podcast, dedicated to Liverpool FC. Fees for this article will go to the Joint Council for Immigrant Welfare

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