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Taking it personal

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Manchester City have become Champions League regulars since the Abu Dhabi-based group bought the club in 2008 and turned them into one of the best sides in Europe. In the 14 years since the club changed ownership, City have been bankrolled to unrivalled domestic success, winning six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and six League Cups.

However, the biggest prize in club football has so far proved elusive to the blue side of Manchester. City have had a number of near misses in the competition, including losing the 2021 final to Chelsea and conceding two late goals to Real Madrid in their heartbreaking semi-final defeat in the 2022 edition.

Although that might all change in the 2023 UCL final, after an impressive showing in the competition. The Cityzens have been ruthless this season and have found a new cutting edge to their play. Picking up form at such a crucial stage of the season has become a habit for Pep Guardfiola’s men, although that has reached new heights all together this campaign.

They might go all the way in the Champions League this season, although the Manchester City fans might not stop booing the UCL anthem anytime soon. But what is the reason they do it, and when did it all start?

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Why do City fans boo the Champions League anthem?

This is not something that happened overnight, rather several decisions that has built a dislike in a majority of the club’s supporters towards Uefa.

It started during their 2011-12 Europa League campaign, when Porto were fined just 20,000 euros when their fans racially abused former City striker Mario Balotelli. This is despite the Citizens receiving a 30,000 euro fine just a month later for returning to the pitch 30 seconds late for the second half in their fixture against Sporting Lisbon.

Their dislike continued in 2014 when UEFA hit them with a £49m fine for falling foul of the Financial Fair Play rules, along with transfer spending and squad size restrictions.

Tensions reached its peak later that year, when City fans had pre-booked flights and hotel rooms for their match with CSKA Moscow, only to learn the Russian club had a stadium ban.

While understandable after their fans’ racial abuse and behaviour, some City supporters still attempted to get in, only to be stopped – yet hundreds of CSKA fans were inside, in front of Uefa delegates. No sanctions or consequences for it – but the Moscow outfit had their ban reduced on appeal.

In addition to that, further investigations for financial offences have only heightened the distrust from City fans to UEFA. Nevertheless, City manager Pep Guardiola has said that he believes the fans’ attitudes towards the competition are changing.

“I think the last time there were less boos,” Guardiola said in 2019. “My feeling is now the people are starting to enjoy this competition. They are feeling like we can do it together.”

 

Man City Champions League fine and ban

In 2014, three years after the Balotelli incident, Manchester City became the first side to feel the full force of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations introduced by UEFA.

After a spell of big spending, City were hit with a £49 million ($61.2 million in today’s money) fine and subjected to additional squad size restrictions after being found to have broken FFP rules. In the aftermath of this ruling, City fans first began booing UEFA’s anthem.

Manchester City were again found in breach of Financial Fair Play rules in 2020, with the decision to ban them from the Champions League for two seasons only overturned on appeal.

Other clubs around Europe have been found in breach of Financial Fair Play, but City fans believe these clubs have been let off lightly in comparison to the punishment dished out to them by UEFA.

 

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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