Friday 30 September 2016

Manchester City to be charged by UEFA after fans boo Champions League anthem

Andy Hampson

Published 22/10/2015 | 14:58

Making voices heard: City fans regularly boo Champions League anthem in protest at Uefa
Making voices heard: City fans regularly boo Champions League anthem in protest at Uefa

Manchester City have been reported to UEFA over their fans' continued booing of the Champions League anthem, Press Association Sport understands.

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Disciplinary proceedings will now be opened by the European governing body and a charge could follow if it is deemed the club have a case to answer.

It is understood the matter was reported by a match delegate after the anthem was jeered by home fans prior to City's Champions League victory over Sevilla at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

UEFA is now obliged to consider the matter but this is standard procedure and it does not necessarily mean the club will be hit by sanctions. City have not commented following the development.

City fans have regularly booed the Champions League anthem over the past year in protest at the financial fair play punishment meted out to the club by UEFA in 2014.

City were fined £49million, hit with a transfer spending cap of the same amount and forced to limit their Champions League squad last season to 21 players rather than the regular 25.

Their disgruntlement with UEFA grew when a match against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital last October was ordered to be played behind closed doors because of the behaviour of home fans. A number of City fans had already paid for tickets, travel and accommodation and felt they were being unfairly punished.

An organised boycott of the anthem was arranged in conjunction with Bayern Munich fans, who had a similar issue over a game in Moscow, prior to a game against the Germans last December. Both sets of supporters turned their backs during the anthem.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini this week refused to criticise supporters over the matter.

The Chilean was asked before the Sevilla game if the continued booing might be affecting his players in creating a negative atmosphere before games.

Pellegrini said: "I think we always have in the Etihad the atmosphere we need in Champions League, Capital One Cup or Premier League. We always feel the fans are behind the team and they always support us a lot.

"I don't think the atmosphere is lower than what we need. It is a good atmosphere."

UEFA later confirmed the report had been received and a date set for the matter to be considered.

A spokesperson said: "UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings for the disruption of the competition anthem at last night's match. The disciplinary body will deal with this case on November 19."

City could be charged under article 16 of UEFA's disciplinary regulations which does list "the disruption of national or competition anthems" as "inappropriate behaviour" the club could be liable for.

City are thought to be bemused by the development and would consider making representations to defend the rights of supporters to freedom of expression and peaceful protest if necessary.

Press Association

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