On a morning that saw Gerrard and Carragher sign deals that will tie them to the club until 2011, everyone's talking about the "worst fans in Europe." Super.
I don't really have much else to add to the chorus of others, despite my undying dislike of Platini, Gaillard, UEFA, FIFA, and pretty much every organization that's so far put politics over football. We've already known these groups are frequently negligent at best, and now they're trying to shift any and all blame onto traveling Liverpool fans instead of taking a long hard look at themselves.
Admittedly, I'm not in the best position to comment. I'm not a match-going red, I'm not a Scouser. But I will take umbrage at all degradation of Liverpool fans with a blanket statement, especially when it's as unjustified as this. 'When in doubt, blame the English' might as well be UEFA's motto.
This will not be a defense of the actions of some Liverpool supporters in Athens. There is no defense. You cannot defend stealing tickets, rushing the gates, or any of the actions taken by the minority of traveling fans. They’ve given UEFA the opportunity to tar an entire fanbase with the same brush.
The word “minority” must be emphasized. And to pretend that the fans were the complete and total cause of the breakdown, that Liverpool have some of the worst fans in Europe, and that there are 25 incidents ranging over the past five or so years that prove this is utter insanity. It was Gaillard himself who said the day before the final that "The two groups of supporters have a tradition of good behaviour and at this point we are expecting that to continue," not to mention the platitudes thrown out by Platini, Blatter, and their ilk towards Liverpool fans whenever it suits their purposes.
UEFA certainly has some nerve. These are political men, doing their utmost to turn the game into a political organization, and this is yet another example of that. It's completely acceptable to condemn an entire group of supporters in what boils down to a PR effort to save face. That’s disgusting, even if it’s not your favorite team they’re defaming. Blaming the customers is an exceptional business approach. Those responsible need to take responsibility to be sure. Some actions of Liverpool fans were a complete disgrace. But all involved need to take responsibility, and not just throw stones when you live in the biggest glass house on the block.
This isn’t about other allegations, but UEFA feels comfortable making declarative statements like these when policemen are getting killed at matches? When virulent racism still takes place? When Ultras rule certain teams fan bases? Match fixing, flares, missiles. Stewards pelted with seats, fans stabbed outside of stadiums.
It's heartening to see Parry and the club come out with a statement early this morning, because I know there was concern over the weekend over the club's response. There was no way Liverpool could shove this under the rug, but the condemnation was swift, severe, and welcomed.
In lieu of trashing UEFA and their arguments even more, and end up repeating what far better writers have already said, I'd rather point you to other articles around the internet that do the job of pointing out the insanity of this situation and UEFA in general. From what I’ve written in the past, I’d imagine it’s clear I’ve little love lost for Platini, Gaillard, or UEFA, but this is just disgraceful. There’s no other way to say it.
• Liverpool Echo: RESIGN
• Tony Barrett: UEFA smear campaign
• RAWK: A Open Letter to Michel Platini
• BBC: Caborn and Parry hit back at UEFA
• Guardian: UEFA needs to buck up its ideas
• Liverpool fan to sue UEFA over Athens chaos