Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin has acknowledged that the Champions League final in Istanbul had its shortcomings and admitted that “not everything was perfect” for fans. Following criticism of the event, reports surfaced of fans enduring long walks along busy roads, hours of queuing for transportation to and from the stadium, and even being left without water during the match between Manchester City and Inter Milan on 10 June.
This is not the first time Uefa has faced backlash regarding fan experiences at major finals. The organization had previously apologized when Liverpool supporters were confined and subjected to tear gas before the final in Paris last year. While Uefa had not yet addressed the specific issues faced by fans in Istanbul, Ceferin acknowledged that problems had indeed arisen in Turkey and required attention.
Speaking at the opening of the European Football Fans Congress in Manchester, Ceferin acknowledged the possibility of a cold reception due to recent events. “We are well aware that not everything in Istanbul was perfect,” he said. I’m not downplaying the issues that some people may be having. But let’s keep collaborating to make improvements where we can. He emphasised the importance of improving access to and from the stadium, the entire fan experience, and making sure that everyone had access to water and restrooms.
Football Supporters Europe is currently collecting fan accounts from Istanbul to compile a report to be presented to Uefa, shedding further light on the issues faced by supporters during the final. Ceferin also pointed out that Uefa’s other major finals in both men’s and women’s football had taken place without significant problems.
Looking ahead, Ceferin expressed optimism for the upcoming major finals in 2024, where Wembley will host the Champions League final and Germany will host the European Championships. He described these events as a “unique experience” for fans, suggesting that lessons learned from previous finals would be implemented to ensure a more enjoyable and seamless experience for all attendees.