Making the 2024 Champions League final at Wembley a success gives the Football Association “healthy paranoia,” says chairman Debbie Hewitt.
Fans at this month’s final between Manchester City and Inter Milan in Istanbul reported problems with transport, water and toilet facilities.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted this on Thursday “not everything was perfect”.
That followed a major crush at the Final 2022 in Paris.
UEFA’s own investigation found it was “remarkable” that there were no deaths in the final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, when fans were trapped and tear-gassed outside the Stade de France.
There were scenes of it major fan failures and security breaches when Wembley hosted the Euro 2020 final in July 2021 when England lost to Italy.
“There is pressure at every event we hold,” said Hewitt. “We run the national stadium. If something happens in that arena… we have paranoia. It’s healthy paranoia I’d say.”
UEFA will decide the hosting rights for Euro 2028 later this year, when a combined bid from the United Kingdom and Ireland faces competition from Turkey.
That means the success of the 2024 Champions League final will have no material impact on the bidding decision.
However, Hewitt is keen to learn lessons from Paris and Istanbul – as well as from the Euro 2020 final, when turnstiles were stormed by ticketless fans who flocked to the stadium.
“You have to look for the thing that’s different,” Hewitt said. “It’s not the ordinary things that go wrong. It’s the things that didn’t happen.
“That night we had 30,000 empty seats for the first time. It’s easy for me to stand here and say that’s obvious, that’s the thing that was different. You have to look for it.”
“Secondly, it is absolutely crucial that all stakeholders who are going to make a difference are in the same room. It makes no sense for the police to do their part in one room, the stewards to do their part in another, us to do our part in that room and UEFA doing theirs in that room.
“It’s about getting everyone in the same room and testing each other’s plans for destruction. I believe in a process called pre-mortem, not post-mortem.”
‘FA made a good kick-off for Community Shield’
The Football Association has moved the start time of the pre-season Community shield between Manchester City and Arsenal on Sunday 6 August from 5.30pm BST to 4pm following complaints from fans over concerns about public transport travel.
Hewitt believes the move was proof that an organization was willing to listen to complaints and consider the competing demands of numerous stakeholders, including broadcasters.
“Whenever we set a start time, we have a large number of stakeholders, many of whom won’t even know,” Hewitt said.
“Everyone talks about the broadcasters because they are an important stakeholder. But it’s the local communities, it’s the police, whatever else is happening on the day. It’s never that easy to say ‘one voice trumps all’.
“This is a great example of where we listened and gathered stakeholders to say ‘this is important to make a change’.”
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