Uefa have opened disciplinary proceedings against Manchester City after some of their supporters booed the Champions League anthem before their match against Sevilla on Wednesday night.
City already have a fractious with Uefa after the European governing body heavily sanctioned them in 2013 over a breach of their Financial Fair Play regulations, only to ease the ruling earlier this year.
Part of their sanction was to restrict their Champions League squad to just 21 players rather than the usual 25 as well as pay a £50m fine that the club and its supporters deemed unfair, but the latest action against the club but Uefa comes as a bizarre and unprecedented measure.
Uefa have charged City with a breach of regulation 16.2g of their disciplinary regulations, which states:
“All associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can prove the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match:
“g) the disruption of national or competition anthems."
The most likely outcome will be a warning or at worst a fine against the club, and the prospect of a points deduction is very unlikely. The move comes as a shock though, given that fans at the Etihad Stadium have booed the anthem in the past in a low-key protest against Uefa since the FFP sanction was imposed two years ago.
A video of a section of fans booing the anthem – G F Handel’s Zadok the Priest which was adapted by England’s Tony Britten in 1992 – emerged on Twitter on Wednesday night, and it is the first time Uefa have resorted to a measure where the Champions League anthem is involved as opposed to a national anthem.
The decision has been criticised given Uefa’s current state. President Michel Platini is currently serving a 90-day suspension from Fifa that has put his bid to succeed Fifa president Sepp Blatter in major doubt.
Uefa later confirmed the report had been received and with the case to be dealt with in November.
A spokesperson said: "Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings for the disruption of the competition anthem at last night's match. The disciplinary body will deal with this case on November 19."
City could be charged under article 16 of Uefa's disciplinary regulations which does list "the disruption of national or competition anthems" as "inappropriate behaviour" the club could be liable for.
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