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Thursday, August 1, 2019
CHELSEA STATEMENT ON UEFA'S BARCELONA DECISION AND FAN SAFETY IN EUROPE
On 14 March 2018, Chelsea played in Spain against FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Unfortunately, before and after the game at the Camp Nou, a series of serious incidents took place, including Chelsea fans being attacked with batons by FC Barcelona security staff. The incidents resulted in injuries to a large number of our fans, with many others feeling that their safety was endangered. These incidents were immediately reported by Chelsea to UEFA, with a request for a full investigation.
Following the match, the Club issued a request for information and witness reports from our supporters. We received an unprecedented number of responses highlighting poor organisation, lack of crowd control, brutality on the part of stewards and exposure to generally unsafe conditions. All of this information was assimilated by the Club at the time of the incident and provided to UEFA.
The Club originally faced charges for the behavior of its own fans, however, following an appeal process, we are pleased to confirm that UEFA have concluded that Chelsea supporters’ conduct in approaching and leaving the stadium did not violate UEFA rules. We understand that the decision will be published by UEFA in its next disciplinary update.
Notwithstanding this, Chelsea is extremely disappointed by the decision of the UEFA Appeal Body to reject our request that disciplinary proceedings be opened against FC Barcelona. This was important to Chelsea, not least because we wanted to ensure that measures are implemented to prevent the incidents from being repeated.
The wellbeing of our supporters at both home and away games is of utmost importance to the Club. On 18 June 2019, a senior delegation from the Club led by Chairman Bruce Buck met with UEFA executives in Switzerland to discuss measures that could be put in place to help ensure that lessons are learned from safety incidents at matches in UEFA competitions. The meeting was constructive and we are pleased to confirm that UEFA has committed to carrying out further work in this important area to see how they can integrate our suggestions into the disciplinary process to make it more effective in preventing future incidents of this nature. While responsibility for safety and security at matches ultimately rests with the host club, UEFA implement a system of risk assessments and work with clubs to seek to anticipate and minimize risks at matches across Europe. We are encouraged that UEFA is taking seriously the points we raised on behalf of our supporters and will continue our dialogue with UEFA on this issue. We would also welcome feedback from supporters on any incidents that arise at away fixtures during our Champions League campaign this coming season.