Liverpool v Atletico Madrid: Coronavirus impact to be investigated by council

The match was the last major fixture played in England before the season was suspended

The impact of Liverpool’s Champions League fixture with Atletico Madrid on the spread of coronavirus is being investigated by the city’s council.

The move follows calls from the mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram for an independent inquiry.

The Reds hosted Atletico at Anfield on 11 March in front of 52,000 fans including 3,000 from Madrid, which was already under partial lockdown.

Liverpool City Council will work with John Moores University on the project.

A spokesperson said: “Liverpool City Council, alongside partners at the University of Liverpool and John Moores University, have agreed to explore any impact of Covid-19 as a result of the Atletico Madrid match at Anfield on 11 March.

“Liverpool City Council’s public health team, alongside partners, is currently assessing the size and scope of the project. As the city’s current focus is very much on dealing with the pandemic, no timescale or date has yet been set for the completion of the work and when it will be reported.”

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson commissioned the investigation and said the council wanted to find out whether data could give an “indication” of the impact staging the fixture had.

Over 270 people have died in hospitals on Merseyside during the outbreak and there have been more than 1,250 confirmed cases of the virus in Liverpool.

Liverpool’s fixture with Atletico was the last major football game to be played in England, with the season suspended two days later.

Other sporting events were still taking place, including horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival in the second week of March, which was attended by 251,684 people.

The UK government has defended its decision to allow such events to go ahead before restrictions on mass gatherings were enforced 10 days after Liverpool’s fixture.

While there is no confirmed link between the Liverpool match and any coronavirus cases, on 20 April the government’s deputy chief scientific adviser, Angela McLean, said it warranted further investigation, describing it as an “interesting hypothesis”.

‘Poor decision’ to stage Atletico game in March

Liverpool fan Ben Johnson attended the match while feeling unwell and later developed coronavirus symptoms. He told BBC Sport this week he wished “there wasn’t the opportunity to go” to the fixture.

The mayor of Madrid has already said the decision to allow the match to go ahead was “a mistake”.

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