'Parallels with Hillsborough uncanny and terrifying' - Liverpool MP Ian Byrne calls on UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin to resign over handling of 2022 Champions League final

Aleksander Ceferin Président UEFAGetty Images

The Liverpool MP Ian Byrne has urged the Football Association to put pressure on Ceferin following UEFA's handling of the final between the Reds and Real Madrid 16 months ago.

Before the match, thousands of supporters endured lengthy queues, dangerous policing and attacks by local thugs, and an independent report found UEFA bore "primary responsibility" for the chaos that "almost led to disaster" outside Paris' Stade de France.

Now, Byrne has written a letter to FA CEO, Mark Bullingham, accusing UEFA of having "seriously endangered" supporters and calling for the removal of Zaljko Pavlica, the organisation's head of security and close friend of Ceferin.

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He wrote: “Cronyism was responsible for the appointment of Zeljko into such a vital position at UEFA with responsibility for the safety of supporters – a position he was patently unfit to fill. Can you please outline what steps the FA are taking to ensure that this culture of cronyism is eradicated?

“I believe it is vitally important to remember at all times that UEDA is a confederation of football associations, which means the FA is part of it and as such the FA must hold UEFA to account, especially in a situation where supporter safety has been so seriously endangered due to appalling governance and cronyism at UEFA. At present this does not seem to be happening but turning a blind eye is not an acceptable response."

This comes days after The Guardian reported that UEFA had been accused of presenting "completely untrue" evidence to its own independent inquiry into the 2022 final, to protect its safety and security unit from criticism.

Sharon Burkhalter-Lau, who was second in command at the game and was UEFA's operations director at the time, also alleged that Pavlica and his team missed many safety briefings, failed to give important information for the planning process and claimed most of the problems stemmed from the Paris police.

Incidentally, Byrne said there are similarities with how this event was run and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster - where 97 football supporters died and 766 were injured due to a lack of police control, defects at the stadium, and overcrowding.

He wrote: “The parallels with Hillsborough are both uncanny and terrifying. I urge the FA not to let the LFC supporters down like they did previously in 1989. I also urge you in the strongest possible terms, as chief executive officer of the FA and in light of [the Guardian’s reporting], to call on UEFA to remove Zeljko Pavlica and to call on Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin to again consider his position in the interest of all football fans across Europe.”

According to The Guardian, UEFA did not respond to an invitation to comment on Byrne's letter, however, an FA spokeswoman did.

“The safety of fans is of the utmost importance to us and planning is already well under way for the Champions League final in 2024 which will be hosted at Wembley,” she said. “The recommendations from the Paris report are central to our planning and will be implemented.”