A probe has been launched in Liverpool into the contribution of a UEFA Champions League match between city giants Liverpool FC and Spanish club Atletico Madrid — held at Anfield on March 11 — to the number of coronavirus cases in the city. The match was attended by 52,000 fans in the stadium out of which over 3000 had travelled from Spain.
“I have asked (city public health director) Matt Ashton and his team to conduct a full investigation into any potential link between that match and the situation with coronavirus in the city,” Mayor Joe Anderson is quoted as saying by Liverpool Echo. “We want to come to a view as to whether that decision had an impact on the people of this city and I’ve asked Matt to work with the universities to see if the data can give us an indication of that.”
Earlier, Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram had asked for an investigation into the match. “That needs to be investigated to find out whether some of those infections are due directly to the Atletico fans. There were coronavirus hot cities, and Madrid was one of those,” Rotheram told BBC.
“They weren’t allowed to congregate in their own country, but 3,000 of those fans came over to ours, and potentially may well have spread coronavirus,” he added.
Spain was one of the first countries to be affected adversely by the virus in Europe and continues to remain one of the epicentres of the disease.
“So it does need looking at, and it does need the government to take some responsibility for not locking down sooner.”
“If people have contracted coronavirus as a direct result of a sporting event that we believe should not have taken place, well that is scandalous,” Rotheram said.
LaLiga matches were already being played behind closed doors at the time of the match which meant that the travelling Atletico Madrid fans could not watch their own team play in their domestic league back home.