The mayor of Liverpool City Region has called for an investigation into whether a Champions League fixture should have taken place in the city in March amid concerns it could have led to a high number of local coronavirus cases.
Liverpool’s match against Atletico Madrid at Anfield on 11 March was attended by 52,000 supporters, including 3,000 from the Spanish capital, where a partial lockdown was already in force.
The UK government has defended its decision to allow such events to go ahead before restrictions on mass gatherings were enforced 10 days later.
But Steve Rotheram told BBC Sport an independent inquiry was needed into a potential connection with a surge of cases in Liverpool since.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The latest figures show 246 people have died with coronavirus in Liverpool’s NHS hospitals.
Meanwhile, Madrid is one of Europe’s worst affected cities and Spain has the second highest number of confirmed infection cases in the world, behind the United States.
“We’ve seen an increase in the infection curve, and that’s resulted in 1,200 people [in Liverpool] contracting Covid-19,” said Rotheram.
“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.”
The mayor of Madrid has already said the decision to allow the match to go ahead was “a mistake”, as has Liverpool city council’s director of public health Matthew Ashton.
CREDIT: BBC SPORT