Liverpool fans tear-gassed in Paris, Rangers fans without water in baking heat: Why football needs a democratic revolution – Scotsman comment

Why do basic human rights not exist for football fans? Supporters of Liverpool and Rangers will know why we pose the question.

Last weekend, children, disabled people and others found themselves being pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed outside the Stade de France before Liverpool met Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

Ten days earlier Rangers fans had been stuck inside a roofless stadium in Seville, in baking heat, denied anything to drink for hours after "overzealous" stewards took their belongings.

In the case of last weekend's troubles, no proper investigation has been completed into the events.

France's sport minister, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, was reported telling French radio she was "eager to learn all the necessary lessons" from such an exercise.

But she was not so eager as to wait before saying: "What we really have to bear in mind is that what happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with counterfeit tickets.”

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Fans and journalists at the ground have painted a different picture: of chaotic organisation, heavy-handed police and local youths running amok.

Police spray tear gas at Liverpool fans outside the stadium ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid (Picture: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The gap between eye-witness accounts and the subsequent official narrative will raise fears of a cover-up. Liverpool fans, more than most, know how those work. They suffered for years at the hands of scandalous official lies after the Hillsborough disaster.

We can all see chaotic ticketing arrangements and the mismanagement of crowds being pinned on anyone other than those with responsibility for the safety and comfort of fans. Pepper-spraying being blamed on anyone other than the people wielding the canisters.

In a statement yesterday on their troubles in Spain, Rangers noted "fans spend a lot of effort, time and money following their teams all over Europe and expect to be treated with respect and dignity while attending football games”.

The Scottish club was right. And, if Uefa – aided and abetted by entire governments, it seems – is unable to ensure fans' safety and dignity, someone else should.

Pan-European regulation of the sport by a democratic institution is the answer, to ensure those fundamental human rights are protected.

Because football fans – who have had to bankroll Uefa's well-upholstered and utterly unaccountable existence for years – deserve no less.

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