Liverpool to meet Uefa, Roma and Rome officials over safety fears
Delegation from club will travel to Rome on Friday ahead of second leg
A general view of the Stadio Olimpico in Rome where Liverpool will play the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Roma next Wednesday. Photograph: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Liverpool have taken the unprecedented step of organising a meeting with Uefa, Roma and the Italian authorities in Rome on Friday over serious security concerns for their Champions League semi-final at the Stadio Olimpico.
A delegation from Liverpool will meet officials from European football’s governing body, their Champions League opponents, police and council members in Rome having been frustrated in attempts to gather what they consider basic information for supporters travelling to next Wednesday’s second leg.
Talks began when the semi-final draw was made on April 13th. A fortnight later several security issues have not been addressed, prompting Liverpool’s request for Friday’s meeting.
Events at Anfield on Tuesday, where 53-year-old Irishman Séan Cox was seriously assaulted outside the stadium by Roma fans, have heightened the club’s concerns. Cox remains in a critical condition.
Liverpool have sold 5,000 away tickets and usually provide fans with guidance on security and safety issues at the point of sale. That information is provided by the opposition club but a complication is that Roma do not own their stadium. The relevant authorities – the local council and security services – have not addressed several issues raised by Liverpool, Roma and Uefa.
They include: the provision of a safe and secure shuttle bus service to and from the Stadio Olimpico for the 5,000 away supporters (Liverpool have offered to subsidise the additional transport costs). What time Liverpool fans can arrive at and enter the stadium. Whether bags are allowed in the stadium (many fans will be arriving on day trips), areas of the city to be avoided and routes to take to the stadium if the shuttle service is not provided.
An additional concern is the enforcement procedure for fans with tickets that do not correspond with their names and what will happen to fans if refused entry. According to Italian regulations ticket-holders must have their name on the ticket. Liverpool are concerned this could lead to a build-up of fans outside a stadium that has narrow entrances and a bottle neck in certain areas. Supporters without tickets will be advised not to travel in keeping with standard Liverpool policy.
A Liverpool statement said the club “is continuing to do everything in its power to provide supporters travelling to Rome next week with the most comprehensive safety and security advice. The club has taken the exceptional measure of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday.
“Present at the meeting will be all the major stakeholders, who share responsibility for the wellbeing of Liverpool supporters making the journey to watch the Champions League tie. At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join Roma, Uefa and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific concerns.
“Liverpool have sought clarity on a number of issues surrounding the match-day operation since the draw was made and is hoping this extraordinary meeting will provide the necessary reassurances and essential information. This, if provided, will allow the club to fully inform supporters of the measures that will be in place. The club thanks its fans for their engagement on this issue and would hope to provide a detailed update following the meeting.”
Liverpool know from experience the security problems that surround a game at Roma while fans of Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Middlesbrough have all been targeted in the Italian capital in recent years. – Guardian service