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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Why Man City fans boo the Champions League anthem

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Manchester City have been regulars in the Champions League for many years now following their 2008 takeover and they even reached the final in 2021, which was lost to Chelsea.

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Despite this, they have an odd relationship with the tournament.

They have never won it, despite it so blatantly being the missing jewel in their crown. As well as that, their fans always boo the UEFA Champions League anthem when it is played before their matches.

They are not the only club in Europe too have done this, but they are the most prolific with it.

The booing stems back to the 2011/12 season. City were playing against Porto and Mario Balotelli was racially abused by the fans. Porto were fined €20,000. A month later though, City were playing against Sporting CP and were fined €30,000 for being 30 seconds late onto the pitch.

The relationship soured further when City were set to play CSKA Moscow away from home, but the Russian club were ordered to play behind closed doors following racial abuse by fans. That means City fans could not go either even though thousands had flights, tickets and accommodation already paid for. Some CSKA fans were also then allowed into the stadium.

The next incident was in 2017 when City were set to play Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine. The game was ordered to be played behind closed doors so City fans did not make arrangements, and then just weeks before the fixture, the decision was reversed, at which point it was too late for fans to go.

Alongside all of this was the fact that City have been regularly investigated and once found guilty of breaking UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. They were fined £49m in 2014 and made to name a smaller Champions League squad than usual as punishment.

They were found guilty of another breach in 2020 and were banned from the tournament for two years, which was then overturned on appeal.

Overall, many City fans feel they have been targeted by UEFA for their newfound wealth which comes from outside of Europe.

City had just one campaign in the old European Cup back in 1968/69, in which they were knocked out in the first round. That was it until the investment from Abu Dhabi arrived and they qualified for the Champions League in 2011. Despite going on to win the Premier League title in 2011/12, they were knocked out in the group stage that year and also the following year.

They have made the group stage every single season since. In 2013/14 and 2014/15, it ended at the Round of 16, whilst 2015/16 was a run to the semi-finals. The next four seasons did not go beyond the quarter-final stage before reaching the final for the first time in 2020/21.

That felt like a major opportunity for City to finally realise their European dream, despite UEFA’s perceived adversity towards them. But Kai Havertz’s goal was enough to secure the win for Chelsea

Last season, they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Real Madrid after chucking away a commanding lead in dramatic late fashion.

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