Uefa Presenting Untrue Evidence to Inquiry on Champion

Uefa has been accused of presenting “completely false” evidence to its own independent investigation into the near-disaster of the 2022 Champions League final in order to protect its security unit–led by the president’s best friend–from criticism.

The allegations were made by the then Uefa operations manager Sharon Burkhalter-Lau, an event management specialist, who was involved in the planning of the final on 28 September.

The game escalated into a near-fatal disaster, in which the security management operation failed and thousands of fans suffered long static, overwhelming queues, dangerous policemen and local brawlers attacks.

Uefa appointed a panel of experts to investigate the debacle and concluded that Uefa had the “primary responsibility” for failing to monitor and supervise the security plans and operations in Paris. However, the panel said that this failure was not primarily the fault of the security unit, whose task is to monitor security, but of the Burkhalter-Lau events department, as it “marginalized” the unit.

From 2021, the security unit will be headed by Zeljko Pavlica, the best friend of Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin, whose relationship dates back decades of her life at home in Slovenia. Pavlica’s experience lies in the safety of personal bodyguards, and his experience and expertise in qualifying him for the highest stadium security role in European football have been questioned by some security experts.

In notes to Uefa General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis and three other senior officials seen by the Guardian, Burkhalter-Lau dismissed Uefa’s evidence that the unit had been marginalised as “completely false”.

Burkhalter-Lau said that she could not accept the finding that Uefa and its events department were primarily responsible for the chaos, as the panel found, and pointed out her view that the problems were mainly caused by the Paris police, over which Uefa had no authority, and she dismissed the charges against her team.: “The claim that the events of the Uefa margin management has marginalized Uefa’s security unit is based on statements by Uefa that were false and concerted”, she wrote.

Burkhalter-Lau claimed that Pavlica and his team did not show up for important security meetings, including in the run-up to the final, and did not provide crucial information for the planning process.

In his statement to the committee, which was not included in the committee’s report, Pavlica said that he was in the VIP zone almost all the time on the evening of the final. He informed the panel that he was not aware of the crisis until he was called to a meeting at 20: 45, at which Ceferin made the decision to postpone the kick-off.

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