The UEFA president publicly apologized to the FA and thanked Liverpool fans.

A year ago, Liverpool fans gathered in Paris for a football festival. Instead, they experienced a “carnival of chaos”.

In the 12 months since, two supporters have played extraordinary roles, testifying before the French Senate and working with UEFA to bring about change for all football fans.

When Joe Blott of the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool supporters association and Ted Morris of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association returned to Paris last June – less than a month after the events of the final – they became the first non- Francophones to present evidence to the French Senate.

“We destroyed the Hillsborough narrative,” said Morris, a survivor of the 1989 disaster who has worked tirelessly alongside Blott over the past year to bring change to fans. “We got a standing ovation at the end, which I certainly never expected when I walked into that room,” recalls Blott (below right).

“We completely exposed the lies they had concocted and they obviously already had their French-speaking cabinet members already and they know they lied too.

“They heard the truth from us. That’s all we wanted to give. It was to seek truth and justice.




We cleared the fans and killed the Hillsborough story



“It was absolutely surreal,” says Morris of his speech at the Luxembourg Palace. “We were terrified of going to the French senate, we’re just two regular kids from Liverpool representing groups of supporters.

“We had two reasons for going there. The first was to tell the truth, to get Liverpool fans acquitted; Liverpool fans saved lives that day, everyone who was there knew it.

“And second, kill the Hillsborough story. I specifically mentioned this in my testimony because that was the most important thing to me. “I’m proud to say we stepped out of that space, exonerated the Liverpool fans and destroyed the Hillsborough narrative.”

“To receive a standing ovation from the French senators – we were in their country and attacked their government, their president and interior minister [Gérald Darmanin] – whose resignation I demanded – it was a formidable achievement.”


Darmanin, who played a key role in initially blaming Liverpool fans, has since written a personal letter of apology to Morris.

For Morris, like most Liverpool fans, the blame for the events of May 28, 2022 lies with UEFA and the French government, in particular President Macron.

“Joe’s testimony before the French Senate, where he systematically and forensically dissects the lies and untruths that were uttered,” Morris recalled, “is something I will take with me to my grave for it It is an absolute privilege to be next”. sit him down.” .”



Negotiations with UEFA


Since then, the main focus has been on UEFA and its independent report, which was finally published in February and “finds no evidence that so-called ticketless fans or those in possession of counterfeit tickets played a significant causal role in the problems encountered. at the Stade de France.

Blott and Morris met representatives of UEFA, as well as colleagues from Football Supporters Europe and the English Football Supporters Association, shortly after the report was released on the day of Real Madrid’s match at Anfield. So are those involved at the top of UEFA’s food chain?

Discussions in Liverpool in February included UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis, a man who Blott said “is a firm believer in being a man of integrity”.


Blott admits some may have viewed working with UEFA as “working with the enemy”, but he says: “You will only achieve change if you stand up for what is right.”


“For me, being in the room is much more important than being outside and looking out the window,” he says.

Within 48 hours of that encounter, UEFA announced that all Liverpool supporters would receive a refund.

Perhaps it helps that Blott and Morris are not what UEFA and the French authorities would have stereotyped as football fans; They are articulate, composed and, perhaps most importantly, authentic.

“There has to be a fundamental shift and a trust that doesn’t have to be a cultural shift,” Morris says. “Football fans should be recognized as football fans, not hooligans.”


Joe and Ted have traveled across Europe in search of their beloved Reds and have seen and dealt with police trouble before. They were able to tell the authorities the story of thousands of fans so authentically and passionately that they just had to listen.

It also helped Liverpool Football Club, MP Ian Bryne and members of the UK media to tell the cogent truth about what happened.

Thanks go to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol and Mail on Sunday’s Rob Draper for their reporting. Overall, the reports were in stark contrast to 1989. Ceferin’s apology

Giorgio Marchetti flew to Liverpool again earlier this month to meet Morris – a meeting which included a phone call from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

Ceferin thanked me and Joe for our commitment over the past 12 months and for working with UEFA to bring about positive change for football fans,” Morris said.

“So basically we spoke to one, two, three [people] within UEFA.

“I think it was very sincere, just the fact that he did it in the first place. He didn’t have to do that, I’m just Ted from the Disabled Supporters Association. He is the head of UEFA.

“Showing intent by going to Liverpool to do it just shows a willingness to change.” And to make change possible, people must be willing and open to change. And what is happening with UEFA is clear [to me].”

Morris and Blott explain how some of the 21 recommendations in UEFA’s post-Paris report have already been implemented, including discussions with fan clubs around the planning of this season’s Europa and Champions League finals.

“Even before the semi-finals took place, they were in contact with the West Ham fans to discuss the challenges they would face if they reached the final,” Blott explained. “It’s never happened before, so they’re already prepared. And that’s why they actually listen to the fans.”

For example, West Ham have told UEFA they expect 9,000 fans to travel to Prague for the Europa Conference League final. West Ham fan groups told them to expect more than 20,000. UEFA has listened to the fans and is planning accordingly.

“I think we’re starting to make progress,” Blott says. “I have that glimmer of hope that this is a different UEFA than we have experienced so far.”

And apologies from the FA and optimism for the future

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin deals with the aftermath of the coronavirus (Niall Carson/PA)

Blott also reveals that the England FA got in touch to apologize for the lack of help afterwards.

“We talked to them for a long time,” he explains. “We were afraid they hadn’t done much to support us. “You supported Ceferin (above) to be president [of UEFA] again while we were going through all this. They thought about it and said they were wrong.

“So not only UEFA but also the FA have apologised. We know the FA have not apologized, they have in fact been complicit in some things around Hillsborough so this is a significant and seismic change. in terms of how fans now have a real impact on how football is done.

Despite the horrors of a year ago, Morris is equally optimistic:

“I am absolutely optimistic and I firmly believe that there is a strong commitment from UEFA.

“It won’t happen overnight and it won’t be settled in two years, but it’s 2023 and UEFA have accepted that change is needed and that change will come.”

It might be easy to accuse Morris and Blott of being too optimistic, but they are the ones who see firsthand what UEFA is doing behind the scenes. With three European finals in the next two weeks involving two English teams, the first test of this optimism is imminent.

Joe and Ted spoke exclusively to This Is Anfield. We thank them for taking the time to speak to us, but above all for the work they have done, often unseen, on behalf of not just Liverpool fans, but all football fans before the game.

We’ll have more online later this week on the year from Paris.

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