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Why do Manchester City fans boo the UEFA Champions League anthem?

Real Madrid fans love everything to do with the Champions League, including its anthem. Their Manchester City counterparts less so. But why?

Why do Man City fans boo the Champions League anthem?

The Champions League anthem being drowned out by boos has become a common occurrence at the City of Manchester Stadium, whether Manchester City are playing Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain in Europe’s elite club competition.

Supporters of the Premier League club have booed the UEFA anthem for years as a result of a number of perceived injustices doled out by European football’s governing body. The booing is aimed at UEFA itself, rather than the Champions League as a competition, and is now heard at every game at the Etihad in European competition.

City’s Champions League late fine

In its first instance, the animosity from City fans to UEFA was entirely understandable.

It was a reaction to the €30,000 fine that City was handed for being 30 seconds late to return to the pitch after halftime in a game against Sporting Lisbon. This was more than the €20,000 fine previously issued to Porto after their supporters racially abused City forward Mario Balotelli.

Since then, the rift between City supporters and UEFA has only grown wider.

Man City hit with huge FFP fine in 2014

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. It was in the aftermath of this ruling that City fans first began booing UEFA’s anthem.

City fans banned from CSKA match

Many argue that Manchester City supporters have some legitimate reason to feel aggrieved with UEFA, particularly with regards to a group stage game against CSKA Moscow in 2014. Just months after the FFP decision, City fans were banned from attending the fixture due to a punishment aimed at CSKA.

The CSKA stadium had been closed due to a series of racist incidents, but City’s supporters were also banned from attending the game. Club captain Vincent Kompany criticised the decision, arguing that the City fans - many of whom had already bought flights and hotel rooms – were being punished unfairly.

“Why the hell do we not have any fans here? What have our fans done wrong? There’s no fairness in it,” Kompany told the BBC at the time.

“You say no fans, all of a sudden you turn up and the team who has no fans is Man City. So who’s getting punished? Who’s being done for racism, Man City or Moscow?

No sign of an end to UEFA anthem boos

The Champions League has not brought much joy for City fans since their first appearance in the competition in 2011/12, although that could all change in the new few weeks. They have failed to lift the trophy and a series of incidents has left them feeling disrespected by European football’s governing body.

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.”