Why do Manchester City fans boo the Champions League anthem?


    Etihad Stadium before Manchester City's Champions League match
    Man City fans often drown out the Champions League anthem (Picture: Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty)

    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 – the UEFA Champions League – continues to prove 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.

    And it is not only on the pitch that Manchester City have a tricky relationship with the Champions League.

    Before European home matches at the Etihad stadium, City fans boo the Champions League anthem when it is played at the start of matches.

    So, what are the reasons behind the fan discontent aimed at the almost universally beloved Champions League?

    Why do City fans boo the Champions League anthem?

    The booing of one of the most famous anthems in sport began in the 2011/12 season, when Porto was fined €20,000 (over £17,000) after fans racially abused Mario Balotelli.

    But when City played Sporting Lisbon away from home just a month later, the team were 30 seconds late emerging for the second half and were fined €30,000 (over £26,000), sparking outrage from fans.

    Pep Guardiola walks past the Champions League trophy after losing the 2021 final to Chelsea
    Manchester City are yet to get their hands on the biggest prize in club football (Picture: Pierre-Philippe Marcou – Pool/Getty Images)

    Fans were scorned again in 2013, when group stage opponents CSKA Moscow were forced to play their home match with City behind closed doors following racial abuse by fans of the Russian club.

    City fans were also barred from entering the stadium, despite the fact that many had already bought flights, hotels and tickets for the game.

    On the night of the match, many CSKA fans were allowed into the stadium, with some even wearing colours – and the length of their stadium closure was actually reduced on appeal.

    In February 2017, Manchester City were due in Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv in the Round of 16, but the game was scheduled to be played behind closed doors and so City fans knew not to travel.

    However, UEFA overturned the ban just weeks before the game, at which point it was too late for City fans to arrange travel and accommodation.

    Manchester City fans
    Expect boos from the Blues (Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty)

    The biggest flashpoint in City fans’ animosity towards UEFA was when the club were found to have breached Financial Fair Play rules in 2014.

    The club were fined £49million, made to restrict their transfer spending and forced to name a smaller Champions League squad.

    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.

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