UEFA announces Champions League final investigation

By Sports Desk May 30, 2022

UEFA has announced the commissioning of an independent report into the chaos which overshadowed Saturday's Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris.

The start of the showpiece event at the Stade de France, which Madrid went on to win 1-0, was twice delayed as thousands of Liverpool fans struggled to enter the stadium in Saint-Denis.

Although European football's governing body initially blamed supporters for causing congestion by arriving late and using counterfeit tickets, widely circulated social media footage showed local police targeting Liverpool fans with tear gas and supporters being placed at risk of a crush.

Liverpool demanded an investigation into the unsavoury scenes on Saturday, while the UK's culture secretary Nadine Dorries followed suit on Sunday after Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne said supporters had been "treated like animals" at the match.

With the organisation of the contest facing widespread criticism, UEFA have announced an independent investigation, to be led by Portugal's former minister of education and Olympic attache Tiago Brandao Rodrigues. 

"UEFA has today announced it has commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding the UEFA Champions League final in Paris on Saturday 28 May," read a statement from European football's governing body.

"The comprehensive review will examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final.

"The report will be independently compiled, and Dr. Tiago Brandao Rodrigues from Portugal will lead the production of this review. 

"In order to guarantee his independent status in the process, Dr. Brandao Rodrigues agreed to execute this task on a pro bono basis.  

"Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties and the findings of the independent report will be made public once completed and upon receipt of the findings, UEFA will evaluate the next steps."

Earlier on Monday, Liverpool published an online feedback form via social media to allow match-going supporters to share their experiences, in an attempt to aid a "transparent" investigation. 

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  • Premier League turns 30: Key records, facts and figures as the best league in the world reaches landmark Premier League turns 30: Key records, facts and figures as the best league in the world reaches landmark

    The Premier League is officially 30 years old.

    On Saturday, August 15, 1992, the Premier League's inaugural season began with a packed schedule of 15:00 kick-offs.

    Its foundation came as a result of clubs in the old First Division breaking away from the Football League in order to maximise their earning potential, with much of that initially focused around the possibility of lucrative TV rights deals.

    As the Football Association (FA) had a strained relationship with the Football League at the time, the FA backed plans for the formation of the breakaway league, and in July 1991 the Founder Members Agreement was signed by the top-flight clubs.

    While the Premier League fell under the auspices of the FA, the league was given economic independence from the governing body and the Football League, and that has been a major contributing factor in it becoming the behemoth we know in 2022.

    Thirty years on, many believe it to be the best league in world football, and on this day it only seems right to take a trip down memory lane with a look at key records, stats and figures from the competition's three decades...

    Managing expectations

    This is classic 'pub quiz' territory: which manager has presided over the most Premier League games?

    You know it's either Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, don't you? You probably end up going for the Manchester United icon because of his sheer longevity.

    Alas, you'd be wrong.

    Wenger took charge of 18 more Premier League games (828) than 'Fergie' before he brought his long Arsenal career to a close.

    Nevertheless, Ferguson's 13 titles look unlikely to ever be matched. His closest rival in that respect is Pep Guardiola (four), with Wenger joined on three by Jose Mourinho.

    Play on, player

    Over the first 30 seasons of the Premier League, 4,488 players appeared in the competition at an average of 149.6 debutants per campaign.

    If we ignore the inaugural and ongoing seasons for obvious reasons, the campaign with the most debutants was 2015-16 when 162 players made their Premier League bows.

    Of the nearly 4,500 individuals to feature in the competition up to the start of the 2022-23 season, Gareth Barry sits clear with the most appearances (653), the last of which came during the 2017-18 season with West Brom.

    It's a record that will take some beating, but if anyone's got a chance of toppling him, it's his former Manchester City team-mate James Milner.

    The 36-year-old, now of Liverpool, is fourth on the all-time list with 589 outings.

    Forever young

    Everyone loves a 'wonderkid'. The Premier League has seen more than its fair share over the years, and some got started very, very young.

    Mark Platts was the first 16-year-old to ever play in the Premier League when he made his Sheffield Wednesday debut in February 1996.

    When Matthew Briggs came along 11 years later and featured for Fulham at 16 years and 68 days old, you'd have been forgiven for thinking his record would stand the test of time.

    It lasted 12 years until another Fulham player shaved 38 days off Briggs' record – that player was Harvey Elliott. Now at Liverpool, the young midfielder looks set for a glittering career.

    The name of the game

    Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Wayne Rooney – when you think of Premier League goalscorers, these are probably the names that immediately spring to mind.

    Well, you're wrong. You should be thinking about Andrew Johnson, Glen Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Bradley Johnson, Roger Johnson et al.

    Why? Because there are more players with the surname Johnson to have scored in the Premier League than any other surname.

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    Get to the points

    It's been a frustrating few (nine?) years for Man United fans, and this season has started in horrific fashion. But don't worry, folks, if you just look at the big (massive) picture, it'll definitely all feel much better.

    United still sit top of the overall Premier League table with 2,366 points, giving them a healthy 219-point cushion over second-placed Arsenal.

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    To be fair, almost every single one of you knows what's coming here.

    You guessed it, Norwich City's relegation from the last season makes them the yo-yoingest (yes, we've just made that up) club in Premier League history.

    That was their sixth relegation to go with their five promotions to the top flight since 1992, taking them one clear of West Brom, who have the same number of ascensions but only five demotions to their name.

    I love goals, goals, goals, goals

    Of course, Shearer remains the Premier's League all-time leading scorer with 260, 52 more than Wayne Rooney in second.

    But Harry Kane looks to be in with a chance of usurping both England greats – in fact, another solid season could take him beyond 200 as his header against Chelsea on Sunday took him to 184.

    Kane also appears among the very best goalscoring combinations in the competition's history as he and Son Heung-min have linked up for 41 goals – that's five more than Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as the next-best.

    As for high-scoring matches, there have been three Premier League games that have finished with a nine-goal margin – two were achieved by Man Utd (9-0 v Southampton in February 2021, and v Ipswich Town in March 1995) and Leicester City managed it in October 2019, also crushing Saints 9-0.

    Do call it a comeback

    Your team's trailing 2-0, you're despondent and bereft of hope. But then, out of nowhere, you've got a goal back. Then the equaliser. And then, just when you'd convinced yourself "this draw feels like a win", a third goes in, and it's pandemonium.

    There are few more satisfying situations in football than when you team produces such a turnaround – the despair you were feeling earlier only makes your full-time jubilation that bit more intense.

    The biggest such turnarounds that led to wins all involved teams coming back from three goals down. Leeds United, Wimbledon and Wolves have all managed it in 4-3 victories, while Man United beat Spurs 5-3 from 3-0 down.

    No team have done so since Wolves in October 2003, although Newcastle United certainly deserve a special mention – they are the only team to find themselves 4-0 down and avoid defeat. Their 4-4 draw with Arsenal in February 2011 remains a Premier League classic.

    Stop the clock!

    Here's another for the pub quiz enthusiasts: who scored the quickest goal in Premier League history?

    Netting just 7.69 seconds into an April 2019 game between Southampton and Watford, Shane Long opened the scoring to break a 19-year record that had been set by Spurs defender Ledley King.

    To put that into context, it'd take you longer to read that sentence. It was also quicker than Usain Bolt's world-record time in the 100 metres (9.58 seconds).

    The latest goal ever is maybe a less notable record, but it nonetheless belongs to Bruno Fernandes, who in September 2020 scored a penalty after 99 minutes and 45 seconds to seal United a dramatic 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion – yes, that's the game when the Seagulls hit the woodwork a record five times.

    As for the quickest hat-trick, that was scored by Sadio Mane for Southampton against Aston Villa in May 2015, with his first and third goals separated by just two minutes and 56 seconds.

  • Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake collect tough away wins Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake collect tough away wins

    Minnesota United lived up to their terrific away record with a 2-1 win against Nashville SC at Geodis Park on Sunday.

    At home, Nashville were the betting favourites in the contest, but perhaps that should not have been the case as they entered the match with the worst home record in the Western Conference, collecting just 14 points from 12 matches.

    On the other hand, Minnesota are the West's third-best team away from home, with 19 points in 13 matches, and while they have been strong recently – with only one loss from their past 10 games – Nashville have only one win from their past 10.

    The road team took the life out of the crowd when Franco Fragapane put Minnesota ahead 1-0 in the 27th minute, getting on the end of a terrific ball from Emanuel Reynoso after a costly turnover in Nashville's defensive half.

    Nashville would find the equaliser in the 61st minute, with Hany Mukhtar converting from close range on a sharp angle, but less than 15 minutes later Minnesota grabbed the winner.

    It was another move orchestrated by Reynoso, finding substitute Joseph Rosales overlapping down the left-wing just two minutes after his arrival into the game, and his low cross made its way through a sea of legs to reach Alan Benitez for a tap-in at the back post.

    The result keeps Minnesota in the Western Conference's top-four, while Nashville are now clinging onto the seventh and final playoff spot.

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    Salt Lake only had 36 per cent possession in the first half, but they created the only two shots on target, resulting in the game's opening goal when Sergio Cordova got over the back of the Seattle defense in the 32nd minute. 

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    He added: "For sure I am not passive. If I see aggressivity, then my answer is with aggressivity, but I repeat this is not a problem."

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    Chelsea will make the trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the return fixture on February 25.

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