File photo dated 28-05-2022 of Liverpool fans stuck outside the ground show their match tickets during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris, as Liverpool supporters have submitted more than 5,000 first-hand accounts in 24 hours of the Paris chaos surrounding Saturday?s Champions League final.Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. Issue date: Tuesday May 31, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Liverpool fans with legitimate tickets were told they were fake at the Stade de France. (Credits: PA)

UEFA has admitted that it’s entire ticketing system can be brought down by a faulty pen in a shocking insight into the organisation’s incompetence.

The European football governing body’s CEO of events Martin Kallen made the surprise admission during a French senate hearing into the carnage at the Stade de France ahead of May’s UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, during which Reds fans with legitimate tickets including women and children wear tear-gassed and hit with riot shields by French police.

The French senate is undertaking an inquiry in order to establish how football’s showpiece event descended into carnage, and co-chairman Laurent Lafon has already confirmed that ‘almost every authority involved in the organisation of the match] failed at one moment or another.

But on Tuesday morning Kallen and UEFA opted to try to shift blame to fans for the debacle, claiming that thousand had arrived ticketless or with forgeries and tried to enter the stadium. Kallen provided no evidence to substantiate his claim.

During the hearing, Kallen admitted that UEFA’s ticketing system was fallible, with both paper and digital tickets having problems.

‘There was a technical bug with problems filtering and verifying tickets, caused by a faulty pen,’ Kallen explained. This means Liverpool supporters with valid paper tickets were told their were fake due to a broken pen. Family members of players including left-back Andy Robertson were among those who told their legitimate tickets were fakes.

The pre-filter ticket check had been taking place away from the stadium underneath an overcrowded flyover, where fans waited for over an hour in 25 degree heat without access to water or toilet facilities. Eventually, with the risk of loss of life clear, the pre-filter ticket checks were abandoned in order to ease the pressure of dangerous crushes the faulty pens had caused.

Kallen went on to claim that UEFA had wanted the fixture to make us of digital tickets exclusively, using a blockchain system UEFA first built in 2016, but that Liverpool and Real Madrid had objected. Kallen went to reveal a major fault with digital tickets too.

‘If you arrived without bluetooth active at the turnstiles then your QR code was not activated,’ Kallen said, again demonstrating that fans with real tickets were rejected at the turnstiles simply because of bluetooth.

Martin Kallen’s performance in the France senate raised many eyebrows. (Photo by Richard Juilliart – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

In early senate hearings, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin and Paris chief of police Didier Lallement have been ridiculed for suggesting that up to 40,000 Liverpool supporters without tickets or with forgeries attempted to enter the Stade de France. Kallen says UEFA disagree.

‘We do not agree with the 30-40,000 fake tickets figure given very quickly by the French authorities,’ Kallen said. ‘But there were more than 2,600.’

The 2,600 is highly contestable though, with Kallen himself having demonstrated how valid paper and digital tickets were counted as fakes because of UEFA’s problems with broken pens and bluetooth.

Inquiry co-chairman Laurent Lafon has already declared that all authorities involved in the organisation of the match were at fault somewhere along the line. (Photo by Daniel Pier/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Towards the end of the hearing, one of the senators present chastised Kallen for his performance, imploring him to discuss issues major organisational errors from UEFA and the French authorities. ‘Counterfeit tickets were not the main problem,’ the senator said.

‘There was the transport strike, the flow management problems, the interventions of the police, the problems of delinquency around the stadium. Speaking only of forgeries is not right.’ Kallen responded by talking about counterfeit tickets again.

Kallen’s shocking revelation raise significant concerns about UEFA’s ability to organise large sporting events like the Champions League final.

The Swiss told the senate that the organisation’s own report into the fiasco will likely be published some time in September, though his testimony will have done little to placate worries that UEFA’s primary aim will be to protect its own reputation.

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UEFA doubles down on blame of Liverpool fans over Stade de France fiasco in senate shock

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