(Reuters) - The mayor of Liverpool City Region has called for an investigation the Champions League match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid to determine if it contributed to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city.
The round of 16 clash at Anfield on March 11, which holders Liverpool lost 3-2 to crash out of the competition, was attended by about 52,000 fans including about 3,000 from Spain, which went into a complete lockdown a few days later.
“We’ve seen an increase in the infection curve and that’s resulted in 1,200 people contracting COVID-19,” the mayor, Steve Rotheram, told the BBC, referring to people in Liverpool infected with the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“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 British government’s deputy chief scientific adviser, Angela McLean, said on Monday the suggestion, made by a reporter, that allowing the game to go ahead had contributed to the spread of the virus was “an interesting hypothesis”.
“If people have contracted coronavirus as a direct result of a sporting event that we believe should not have taken place, well that is scandalous,” Rotheram said.
“That has put not just those people in danger, but those front-line staff in the NHS and others in their own families that may have contracted it,” he said, referring to the National Health Service.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel