The mayor of Liverpool City Region has today called for an inquiry to be opened into the circumstances surrounding Liverpool’s meeting with Atletico Madrid last month.
Atleti down Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s men welcomed Atletico Madrid to Anfield on the 11th of March, for the 2nd-leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between the clubs.
The visitors carried a 1-0 advantage into proceedings, having downed the Premier League table-toppers courtesy of Saul Niguez’s early strike in Madrid.
And, when all was said and done on Merseyside, Atletico shocked the masses to put an end to Liverpool’s hopes of retaining their European crown.
A spectacular affair was eventually pushed into extra-time, after Gini Wijnaldum’s first-half header saw the two sides level on aggregate with 180 minutes played over two legs.
But, just when it looked as though the hosts had taken control of the tie courtesy of Roberto Firmino’s 94th-minute strike, Atleti hit back, and in decisive fashion.
Substitute Marcos Llorente proved the star for Los Rojiblancos, netting an 8-minute brace to leave a shell-shocked Liverpool requiring two goals.
Former Chelsea hitman Alvaro Morata then put the icing on a historic evening for Diego Simeone and co. with a 121st-minute Atletico 3rd.
Diego Simeone LIVES for nights like this 👏👏👏
Look at that celebration!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8X26ZsnOSw
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2020
‘Needs to be investigated’
Unfortunately for Atletico, the weeks since their Anfield comeback, though, have seen the capital outfit’s heroics take a back seat in discussions surrounding the clash.
At the forefront of the conversation has instead been the tie’s ramifications on the spread of COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Madrid has emerged as one of the most harshly-hit cities on the planet.
Despite this, with social distancing protocols having already been put in place in the Spanish capital, three thousand Atletico fans were allowed to make their way to Anfield for last month’s matchup.
Liverpool, as a city, has seen a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the weeks since, with 246 deaths in hospitals alone.
And, as outlined above, this chain of events could yet see an investigation opened into the circumstances surrounding the Atleti fan presence on Merseyside.
Speaking to BBC Sport earlier today, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, confirmed that an inquiry is on the cards, before urging the UK government to ‘take some responsibility’ for failing to implement a full lockdown earlier:
‘If people have contracted coronavirus as a direct result of a sporting event that we believe shouldn’t have taken place, well that is scandalous.’
‘That’s put not just those people in danger, but those frontline staff in the NHS and others in their own families that may have contracted it.’
‘We’ve seen an increase in the infection curve, and that’s resulted in 1,200 people [in Liverpool] contracting Covid-19.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘So it does need looking at, and it does need the government to take some responsibility for not locking down sooner.’
There are calls for an investigation into whether the Champions League fixture between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid should have taken place in March amid concerns it could have led to a high number of local coronavirus cases.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 23, 2020