Madrid mayor admits allowing 3k Atletico fans to travel to Anfield was a mistake

The Mayor of Madrid Jose Luis Martinez-Almedia has admitted that allowing 3,000 Atletico fans to travel to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool was "a mistake".

Schools in the Spanish capital had already been closed and gatherings of more than 1,000 people were banned.

The match was played on March 11 – the day that the World Health Organisation officially recognised coronavirus as a pandemic, and was the last Champions League fixture to be staged before the competition was suspended.

Atletico won the game 3-2 after extra-time to seal their place in the last eight, although there are no doubts as to whether the tournament will restart along with leagues across the globe.

"It didn't make any sense that 3,000 Atletico fans could travel to Anfield at that time," Martinez-Almedia told Onda Cero radio. "It was a mistake.

"Looking back with hindsight, of course, but I think even at that time there should have been more caution.

"From the day before the game the regional government and Madrid council had already adopted important measures on reducing large gatherings of people."

The comments come after the director of public health for Liverpool council Matthew Ashton said the game should not have gone ahead.

Ashton believes the match could have contributed to the rise in the number of coronavirus cases on Merseyside.

He told the Guardian: "It was not the right decision to stage the match. People don't make bad decisions on purpose – perhaps the seriousness of the situation wasn't being understood across government at that time.

"Although we will never know, the Atletico Madrid game could have been one of the cultural events and gatherings that influenced the rise in Liverpool.

"It is definitely one to be included on the list for learning and for a future inquiry, so that organisations can learn and not make similar mistakes."

Atalanta's Champions League clash against Valencia, played at the San Siro in February, has also come under scrutiny.

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