Sorry isn’t always the hardest word

February 17, 2023 - 07:39
I’ve always thought the Manchester City coach was a class act. Brilliant manager both on, and off, the pitch.
Liverpool supporters were teargassed by police before the 2022 Champions League final in Paris. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

It takes a big person to say sorry. Admitting when you’ve made a mistake, or said the wrong thing, isn’t always easy to do.

I should know. I’ve made a million mistakes in my life and I’m sure many more will follow, but having the courage to stand up and apologise for the error of your ways takes guts.

Pep Guardiola did just that this week. I’ve always thought the Manchester City coach was a class act. Brilliant manager both on, and off, the pitch.

But his comments about Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool captain, were quite simply bang out of order.

Pep’s under a bit of pressure these days, with the dark cloud of more than 100 alleged rule breaches hovering above City.

During a press conference he defended his club, which you can’t blame him for, but he also unnecessarily brought Gerrard into the discussion.

In 2014, with Liverpool in pole position to win the Premier League, Gerrard slipped at a crucial moment against Chelsea, who scored from the mistake.

Pep questioned whether the fall by the Liverpool legend was in fact Manchester City’s fault. A few days later, realising it was something he shouldn’t have said, Pep apologised, both privately to Gerrard and publically during a press conference.

“I apologise to Steven Gerrard for my unnecessary and stupid comments I said the last time about him,” said the City boss.

“He knows how I admire him for his career, what he has done for this country that I am living in and training. I am ashamed of myself what I said because he doesn’t deserve it.”

Fair play Pep.

Also this week another apology was made, this time by UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis who said sorry to Liverpool FC supporters for "the experiences of many of them'' and the unjust blaming.

He was referring to the 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which for the want of a better phrase, descended into chaos.

It was badly organised, badly policed and saw tens of thousands of fans held in increasingly crushed queues for hours before the game at the 75,000-capacity Stade de France.

Many supporters were fired on with tear gas by police before the game, which was delayed by nearly 40 minutes. After Madrid's 1-0 win, dozens were robbed leaving the stadium by local residents in the impoverished Saint-Denis neighbourhood.

UEFA statements during the chaos and after the game blamed Liverpool fans for arriving at the stadium late and using fake tickets to try to gain entry - wrongly blamed on both counts according to a report released this week by UEFA-appointed investigators.

While it is big of UEFA to put their hands up and admit wrongdoings, it is terrifying that such an event could have been so badly managed in this day and age.

And what’s a massive worry, is the same venue will be used for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"It is remarkable that no one lost their life," the investigation panel wrote in a 220-page document published on Monday regarding a near "mass fatality catastrophe" at the biggest club game in world football.

I hope beyond hope that as well as admitting their mistakes, the authorities have learned from them and nothing like this ever happens again. VNS