UEFA Consider New Four-Team Mini-Tournament For Start Of Season

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin arrives to address a press conference following an UEFA executive meeting on April 7, 2022 in Nyon, as UEFA is expected to adopt an overhaul of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system introduced in 2010 to stop clubs piling up debts in their pursuit of trophies. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

UEFA are considering introducing a four-team mini-tournament at the start of each season, just before the Champions League group phase begins, European football’s governing body confirmed on Tuesday.

French sports daily L’Equipe reported that UEFA were weighing up the idea of a competition involving the winners of the previous season’s Champions League along with three other leading clubs.

L’Equipe reported that the idea was included in the invitation to tender for the broadcast rights for the new, expanded Champions League from 2024 to 2027.

When contacted by AFP, UEFA said “it is an idea mentioned in the call for bids, but nothing is decided”.

A source with knowledge of the proposal said the mini-tournament would not necessarily mean more games.

The Champions League group stage is being expanded from the 2024/25 season to feature 36 clubs, up from the current 32.

They will all be together in one pool with each team playing eight matches, all against different opponents, compared to eight groups of four teams playing six matches each at present.

Last month UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP that talks had taken place about transforming the UEFA Super Cup to make it a four-team competition rather than the current one-off match between the Champions League winners and Europa League winners.

“That is a possibility, for sure. Now, who will play exactly we cannot tell for sure yet,” Ceferin said.

“This is one of the ideas that we will do something more with that at the beginning of the season, or before the start of the season.”

Real Madrid will play Eintracht Frankfurt in this year’s Super Cup in Helsinki on August 10.

UEFA To Investigate Champions League Final Chaos

Liverpool FC's supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP
Liverpool FC’s supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid.
Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

 

UEFA announced on Monday it was opening an “independent report” into the security chaos before the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

European football’s governing body said the report would “examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final”.

UEFA have appointed Portuguese politician Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to oversee the report on a pro bono basis on the completion of which they will decide upon a course of action.

READ ALSO: Kano Pillars Extend Unbeaten Run At Handball Premier League

“Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties,” UEFA said.

“The findings of the independent report will be made public,” it promised.

Brandao Rodrigues has served as Portuguese Minister of Education, was a member of the World Anti-doping Agency and was Portugal’s Olympic attaché during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

France on Monday blamed “massive” ticket fraud for the chaotic scenes that marred the Champions League final on Saturday which saw Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0.

But the French government has faced a barrage of criticism from press and politicians in Britain over the policing of the match.

Three Things We Learned From Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

 

Real Madrid produced another barely believable Champions League fightback to beat Manchester City 3-1 after extra time on Wednesday and reach the final 6-5 on aggregate.

The Spanish champions will take on Liverpool in Paris on May 28 in a repeat of the 1981 and 2018 finals.

AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from a classic semi-final.

City’s Champions League pain goes onPep Guardiola’s reign in Manchester is four games away from delivering four Premier League titles in the past five years.

But the one trophy they really want remains elusive as another shot at the Champions League spectacularly blew up in their faces.

It is now 11 years since Guardiola last lifted Europe’s biggest prize as Barcelona boss.

 

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. – Real Madrid won the match 3-1. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

The defensive frailties and fragile mentality of his early seasons at City in this competition seemed to have been washed away by a run to the club’s first ever final last season.

For 89 minutes, they looked like a side maturing under the intense spotlight the latter stages of the Champions League provides.

But that will only make this collapse hurt all the more.

City will look back on the chances wasted to kill off the Spanish giants in both legs as four times they let a two-goal advantage in the tie slip away.

Now they have to rouse themselves quickly to prevent that pain being compounded by also seeing Liverpool snatch away the Premier League title.

Madrid young guns lead the old guard of Karim Benzema and Luka Modric got most of the credit for Real’s revivals to beat Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea just to make it to the last four.

 

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

However, the introduction of Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga also helped swing those second legs at a bouncing Bernabeu in the home side’s favour.

Rodrygo had scored two goals all season until taking the Chelsea tie to extra time last month.

With City leading 1-0 on the night thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s strike and 5-3 on aggregate, the Brazilian transformed the tie by scoring twice in 88 seconds as the game entered stoppage time.

Camavinga’s powerful run beyond the tiring legs of the City midfield then set up the winner as Benzema lured Ruben Dias into a mistimed challenge in the box.

Carlo Ancelotti has consistently kept faith with his veterans all season.

But there are only so many times the Italian can be rescued by his young guns off the bench.

 

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo celebrates with teammates after the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

Camavinga and Rodrygo are entitled to believe they deserve to start against Liverpool.

Money can’t buy Madrid’s mentality

The tradition of the 13-time European champions has not stopped Madrid from being the biggest supporters of a breakaway Super League.

Behind their reasoning has been a fear that they can no longer compete financially for the world’s best players up against the state-backed wealth of PSG and City, or even billionaire-backed clubs like Chelsea have been under Roman Abramovich.

However, they have eliminated all three in a remarkable run to their 17th European Cup final.

 

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema celebrates at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

“We are the kings of Europe” reverberated around the Bernabeu once Benzema slotted home the crucial penalty.

For all the billions thrown at this competition by PSG and City, they remain without a European Cup between them.

The Madrid tradition of success is something money can’t buy.

Russian Clubs Banned From 2022/23 Champions League – UEFA

A file photo of the UEFA Champions League trophy.

 

Russian clubs have been banned by UEFA from participating in the Champions League and all other European competitions next season, European football’s governing body announced on Monday.

“Russia will have no affiliated clubs participating in UEFA club competitions in the 2022/23 season,” it said in a statement.

Russian clubs and national teams were suspended “until further notice” by UEFA in February in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

READ ALSO: Russia Does Not Plan to End Ukraine War By May 9, Says Kremlin

The Russian team’s exclusion from the Women’s European Championship to take place in England in July was also confirmed Monday with Portugal taking its place.

 

AFP

UEFA Adopts New Regulations To Replace Financial Fair Play

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin arrives to address a press conference following an UEFA executive meeting on April 7, 2022 in Nyon, as UEFA is expected to adopt an overhaul of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system introduced in 2010 to stop clubs piling up debts in their pursuit of trophies. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

UEFA on Thursday approved new licensing regulations to replace its existing Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, allowing European clubs to make bigger losses than before but limiting spending on wages and transfers.

As expected, European football’s governing body decided to overhaul the FFP rules that were introduced in 2010 in order to reduce spiralling debts among clubs across the continent.

FFP’s limitations had been exposed by the emergence of state-held superpowers like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

“The biggest innovation will be the introduction of a squad cost rule to bring better cost control in relation to player wages and transfer costs,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced at a press conference in Nyon, Switzerland following a meeting of the body’s executive committee.

UEFA will now allow clubs to report losses of 60 million euros ($65.5m) over three years rather than 30 million euros previously, and the permitted figure will even reach 90 million euros for a club “in good financial health”.

However, that relaxation of the rules is combined with the new ceilings on wage spending.

There was never any possibility of bringing in a specific salary cap like those used in North American sports because UEFA has 55 member countries with well over 1,000 clubs and must contend with European Union and national labour and competition laws.

Yet under UEFA’s new regulations clubs will be forced to limit spending on player and staff wages, transfers and agents fees to 70 percent of total revenues by the 2025/26 season.

The ceiling will drop as current contracts expire: 90 percent of club income in 2023/24, followed by 80 percent the season after and then to 70 percent.

“Breaches will result in predefined financial penalties and sporting measures,” said Ceferin.

Clubs who break the rules could be hit with transfer bans, loan restrictions, demotions from one European competition to another and points deductions in the Champions League.

Russia Expelled From World Cup As FIFA, UEFA Hand Down Bans

FILE PHOTO: The Adidas Telstar 18, the official ball of the tournament is seen during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Serbia and Brazil at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 27, 2018. PHOTO: YURI CORTEZ / AFP

 

Russia has been expelled from the World Cup after being suspended from all international competitions “until further notice”, FIFA and UEFA announced in a joint statement on Monday, while European football’s governing body also ended its partnership with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The men’s team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

“FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” read the joint statement from the governing bodies of world and European football.

READ ALSO: US Expels 12 Russian UN Staff For ‘Espionage Activities’

The Russian men’s team were scheduled to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and might have faced Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals in Qatar later this year.

But their three potential opponents insisted they would boycott the matches.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.

But those measures were dismissed as “totally unacceptable” by Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who added that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off with Russia, “no matter what the name of the team is.”

FIFA changed its approach on Monday, kicking Russia out of the sport’s showpiece tournament.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement added.

“Both presidents (Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin) hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

 

 

– Russia decries ‘discriminatory’ decision –

The Russian Football Union denounced the suspension, saying the move was “discriminatory”.

“It has an obvious discriminatory character and harms a huge number of athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organisations must protect in the first place,” it said in a statement.

The decisions come after a widespread outcry, with global players’ union FIFPro on Monday releasing a statement saying it “strongly disagreed” with the initial measures taken by FIFA.

FIFPro criticised FIFA for not imposing stronger sanctions right away and said that participation of Russian teams in international competitions was now “not a possibility”.

With other nations also coming out to say they would not play against Russia, FIFA and UEFA were left with little choice.

FIFA had to act quickly before the upcoming World Cup play-offs and with the draw for the tournament due to be held in Doha on April 1.

Russia were supposed to play the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland in their group at the women’s Euro in England in July.

“This is a powerful message from the international sporting community that we will not tolerate Putin’s abhorrent assaults on freedom and liberty. Well done FIFA and UEFA” tweeted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

 

 

– UEFA ends Gazprom deal –

Meanwhile Spartak Moscow were scheduled to play RB Leipzig of Germany in the last 16 of the Europa League.

They were the only remaining Russian team in European competition this season.

“Even though we are of the opinion that sport fundamentally unites, we understand and support this decision,” said Leipzig, who, UEFA told AFP, have received a bye into the quarter-finals.

FIFA, though, did not confirm if Poland would qualify directly for the final of their World Cup play-off path.

UEFA said it had ended its partnership with Gazprom, one of its main sponsors, “effective immediately”.

Gazprom has been a key sponsor of UEFA since 2012 and was believed to have been paying around 40 million euros ($45 million) a year in a deal due to run until 2024.

Russian football federation president Alexander Dyukov, boss of Gazprom Neft, the petrol branch of Gazprom, is a member of the UEFA’s executive committee.

German club Schalke 04 also announced Monday it had prematurely ended its shirt sponsorship deal with Gazprom.

UEFA last week stripped the Russian city of Saint Petersburg of this season’s Champions League final, moving the game on May 28 to Paris.

AFP

FIFA, UEFA Expel Russia From All International Football Competitions

This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football's governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP
This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football’s governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Russia has been expelled from the 2022 World Cup and its teams suspended from all international football competitions “until further notice” after its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA announced in a joint statement with UEFA on Monday.

The men’s team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

“FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” football’s global and European governing bodies said.

READ ALSO: Air Peace To Begin Evacuation Of Nigerians From Wednesday – Onyeama

Russia were due to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and could have gone on to face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals.

But their three potential opponents insisted they would boycott the matches.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.

But those measures were dismissed as “totally unacceptable” by Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who added that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off with Russia, “no matter what the name of the team is.”

FIFA changed its approach on Monday, kicking Russia out of the sport’s showpiece tournament.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement added.

“Both presidents (Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin) hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

Russia were due to play the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland in their group at the women’s Euro.

Spartak Moscow had been due to face RB Leipzig of Germany in the Europa League last 16 next month.

UEFA On Verge Of Suspending Russian Teams From All Competitions

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

UEFA is set to suspend Russian teams from all competitions in response to the invasion of Ukraine, according to a report Monday by German sports agency SID, an AFP subsidiary.

The first Russian team affected would be Spartak Moscow, who face RB Leipzig away in a Europa League last 16, first-leg tie on March 10.

The Russian women’s national team would also be excluded from the European Championship due to be hosted by England this July.

READ ALSO: IOC Withdraws Top Olympic Honour From Putin

According to SID, the decision to suspend Russia is supported by several national federations, including the powerful German and English associations.

“I can’t imagine that there will be matches against Russia. There cannot – and must not – be,” Peter Peters, a candidate for the German FA presidency, told SID.

“It is about war. You have to take a clear stance on that.”

AFP

Poland Refuses To Play 2022 World Cup Play-Off Against Russia

This aerial file photo taken on April 20, 2016, shows an aerial view of the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris. France will host this season’s Champions League final after Saint Petersburg was stripped of the match due to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, UEFA announced on February 25, 2022. PHOTO: ROBERT GRAHN / AFP

 

Poland will not play their 2022 World Cup play-off with Russia in Moscow on March 24 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine the president of the Polish football federation said on Saturday.

The conflict entered the third day on Saturday since Russian leader Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale invasion that has killed dozens of people, forced more than 50,000 to flee Ukraine in just 48 hours, and sparked fears of a wider conflict in Europe.

“The time for talking is over. It is time to act. Due to the escalation of the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine, the Polish team does not envisage playing the play-off against Russia,” wrote Cezary Kulesza, adding it was the “only correct decision”.

READ ALSO: Former Ukrainian President Poroshenko Picks Up Rifle In Defence Of Country

He said he would work with the Swedish and Czech federations — the winners of their match would have to play in Russia (on March 29) if the latter beat Poland — to present a unified position to Fifa.

The three federations issued a joint statement on Thursday demanding Fifa move the respective play-offs from Russia.

Polish star Robert Lewandowski had tweeted on Friday that he would consult his teammates about the match and his rejection of war.

“Everything which is beautiful in sports is against what war brings,” he said.

“For all people who value freedom and peace, this is a time of solidarity with the victims of the military aggression in Ukraine.

“As the Captain of the National Team, I will speak with my teammates about the match against Russia, in order to work out a common position on this question and present it to the president of the PZPN (Polish Football Association) as soon as possible.”

European football’s governing body UEFA punished Russia on Friday by stripping Saint Petersburg of hosting European club football’s showpiece event the Champions League final on May 28 and awarded it to Paris.

AFP

UEFA May Move Champions League Final From Russia

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

UEFA will hold an emergency meeting on Friday with this season’s Champions League final in Saint Petersburg set to be at the top of the agenda as European football’s governing body said it “strongly condemns” Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.”

READ ALSO: Super Falcons Players, Officials Angry Over Delay At Abuja Airport

UEFA said an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee would be held on Friday at 0900 GMT and a decision is likely to be made on this season’s Champions League final.

The showpiece game of European club football’s premier competition is scheduled to be played on May 28 at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, which already hosted several matches at last year’s European Championship and at the 2018 World Cup held in Russia.

“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow,” UEFA added on Thursday.

European football’s governing body also has a major sponsorship deal with Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant.

On Thursday the German club Schalke 04 said it would remove the logo of Gazprom, its main sponsor, from the team’s shirts.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed on Tuesday that Russia had “no chance” of holding European football’s showpiece game if it invaded Ukraine.

“A Russia that has pariah status — no chance of holding a football tournament in a Russia that invades sovereign countries,” Johnson said.

“No decision has been taken” by UEFA to move the final but it is “studying different options”, a source with knowledge of the discussions told AFP.

Call to move World Cup play-offs

There are currently four English Premier League clubs still involved in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League, including Chelsea and Manchester City, who contested last season’s final in Porto, Portugal.

UEFA has already moved the last two Champions League finals due to the Covid-19 pandemic from Istanbul to Lisbon in 2020, and then again from the Turkish city to Porto last year.

The latter move was made after the UK government placed Turkey on its coronavirus travel red list, meaning British football fans would not have been able to attend.

British media reports have suggested Wembley Stadium in London as a possible alternative venue for this season’s final, despite the Euro 2020 final there last year being plagued by fan trouble.

The Champions League final was last staged in Russia in 2008 when Manchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.

Zenit Saint Petersburg, the reigning Russian champions and current league leaders, are still involved in the UEFA competition this season and play Real Betis in Spain in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Ukrainian league, which was due to resume this weekend after its long winter break, has been suspended.

“We’ll withstand it,” posted Shakhtar Donetsk, the 13-time Ukrainian champions who have been exiled from their already war-torn home city for eight years, on Twitter with a picture of the Ukrainian flag.

Meanwhile, the Polish, Czech and Swedish football federations released a joint statement calling on FIFA to move World Cup qualifying play-off ties due to be played next month away from Russia.

Russia are due to host Poland in a play-off semi-final on March 24. Should they win, they would then host the Czech Republic or Sweden five days later to decide who qualifies for the World Cup in Qatar.

The three countries said in a statement addressed to world football’s governing body that the play-off matches scheduled for late March “should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation”.

“The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations,” the statement said.

“Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to present alternative solutions regarding places where these approaching playoff matches could be played.”

AFP

UEFA Offer Free Tickets To Fans For Their Loyalty During COVID-19

File photo of a crowd at UEFA Euro 2020.

 

UEFA are to offer 10,000 free tickets to supporters attending this season’s men’s Champions League final to “reward” them for their “support during the Covid-19 crisis”.

Another 20,000 free tickets are to be distributed for other European club finals including 6,000 for the women’s Champions League final in Turin, Italy on May 22.

The two clubs that reach the men’s Champions League final — to be played in the Krestovski Stadium in St-Petersburg on May 28 — will be each given 5,000 tickets “to reward their most loyal supporters,” said UEFA.

READ ALSO: Why Zouma Missed West Ham’s Match Against Leicester City  – Moyes 

The finalists for the Europa League final (May 18) in Sevilla, Spain, will receive 4,000 freebies each, the clubs in the inaugural Europa Conference final, in Tirana (May 25), will have 3,000 apiece to hand out.

UEFA also said the price of the two lowest levels of tickets for the next three Champions League finals will be frozen — the cheapest being 70 euros ($79).

AFP

Champions League Draw To Be ‘Entirely Redone’ After Error

This picture shows the draw for the UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul on August 26, 2021. OZAN KOSE / AFP
This picture shows the draw for the UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul on August 26, 2021.
OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League is to be “entirely redone” after an embarrassing technical error, European football’s governing body UEFA said on Monday.

UEFA blamed a “material error” due to a “technical problem with the software of an external service provider” as it announced that the draw for the first knockout round of its flagship competition would be redone at 1400 GMT.

With the draw being streamed live from UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, the problem was made evident when Manchester United’s name was drawn to face Villarreal, despite the fact the two clubs could not have played one another having been in the same group.

Manchester City were drawn to play the Spanish side, but the ball containing United’s name did not then appear to be replaced correctly and so they were not included as possible opponents for Atletico Madrid in the next tie.

With the whole draw compromised, a red-faced UEFA was left with little choice but to start again from scratch.

-AFP