Uefa lifts home ban on Atletico

Marseille fans clash with police before the match against Atletico
Marseille fans clash with police before the match against Atletico on 1 October

Uefa has temporarily lifted Atletico Madrid’s two-match home stadium ban for the Champions League match against Liverpool on 22 October.

European football’s governing body had ordered Atletico to play their next two matches away from the Vicente Calderon Stadium after crowd trouble.

That meant the Liverpool game would have been held at a neutral venue at least 200 miles from Madrid.

But the decision has been overturned after an appeal by Atletico.

Uefa’s initial decision led to vociferous criticism from thousands of Liverpool fans, unhappy over the late notice Europe’s governing body had given them.

Uefa says it wants to make the welfare of the English club’s supporters its number one priority and has put the ban on hold so that the match goes ahead at the Vicente Calderon stadium.

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry immediately expressed his satisfaction that Uefa had listened to the club’s concerns.

Parry told the club’s website: “We’re delighted at the decision because it means our fans can travel to the game as previously planned without additional expense or inconvenience.

“Liverpool are grateful for the help the FA have provided and pleased Uefa have listened to and acted on the arguments we put forward this week.”

The ban followed the treatment of Marseille fans during and after Atletico’s 2-1 victory on 1 October.

Monkey chants were aimed at the French club’s players, while the Marseille team bus was attacked after the match.

There were also outbreaks of violence between Marseille fans and Spanish police, as well as accusations from Marseille officials and players that they had been racially abused by Atletico fans.

Atletico have denied all claims of racism, insisting that Uefa officials confused chants of “Kun, Kun, Kun” – in support of the club’s striker Sergio Aguero – with monkey cries.

Atletico had also been fined a record 150,000 euros by Uefa, while the punishment could be extended to a third home match should there be further trouble at the club within five years.

The Spanish club’s coach Javier Aguirre has been punished for abusing a Marseille player.

He has been banned from the sidelines, the tunnel, and the dressing room, and is forbidden from communicating with his team, during the matches against Liverpool on 22 October and at Anfield on 4 November.

Atletico hope video evidence will show there were no insults of a racist or xenophobic nature directed at any Marseille player.

The club says its supporters have no prior record of such behaviour and that, in relation to Aguirre’s ban, the coach did not hurl insults at any Marseille player.

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