Atletico confident of hosting Liverpool clash

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The Independent Online

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo is confident his side's Champions League match with Liverpool will go ahead at the Vicente Calderon next week, despite Uefa handing them a three-match stadium ban.

Atletico were given the punishment, along with a fine of around £120,000, for incidents during their Champions League home match with Marseille on 1 October.

Those incidents included outbreaks of violence between Marseille fans and Spanish police after the latter removed a banner that featured a prohibited symbol, as well as accusations from Marseille officials and players that they had been racially abused by the Atletico fans.

European football's governing body have ruled Atletico's next two Champions League home matches - with a third suspended - cannot be played within 200 miles of Madrid.

That means Liverpool's clash there next week will have to be moved - although Cerezo believes that will not happen.

"The Atleti-Liverpool game will be played at the Vicente Calderon," Cerezo was quoted as saying in Marca.

"We will appeal. I have faith that Uefa will do the right thing. I hope they will listen to both sides evenly."

Meanwhile, Atletico's local rivals Real Madrid have thrown their support behind their neighbours.

Real president Ramon Calderon, speaking to Spanish television while attending the Madrid Masters tennis yesterday night, said: "It seems unfair to me. The police do not report to Atletico Madrid. Those that caused the problems were the Marseille fans."

Real full-back Michel Salgado added: "You can't punish an entire fan base for the racist behaviour of a few people in the crowd.

"I think they've been too drastic in their decision. There's racism in every stadium due to a minority of the crowd. It has nothing to do with sport. This punishment sets a precedent.

"We'll have to wait to see what Uefa does whenever this happens again; if every stadium has to be shut down because of this, many games will be played behind closed doors."

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