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MP calls for investigation of Champions League Liverpool game during coronavirus outbreak

(Xinhua)    08:57, April 24, 2020

LONDON, April 23 (Xinhua) -- A British politician called Wednesday for an investigation into a European Champions League clash in Liverpool, which was allowed to go ahead during the coronavirus crisis.

More than 3,000 Atletico Madrid fans left Spain, where large gatherings were banned, and traveled to Liverpool for a game at Anfield.

Liverpool Labour MP Maria Eagle told MPs in the House of Commons Wednesday that the city region now has higher levels of COVID-19 victims than the averages for other parts of England.

Eagle said she had questioned the government whether it was right to allow over 3,000 Atletico Madrid fans to travel to Anfield to watch a Champions League game when they couldn't have watched their team in Madrid because attending football matches there was banned.

She told MPs: "The Mayor of Madrid and the Director of Public Health for Liverpool have both said it was a mistake to let the match go ahead, and the government's deputy chief scientific adviser has said the idea that there is a link is an interesting hypothesis."

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded to Eagle, saying it was a question for scientists.

Eagle told Xinhua Wednesday night: "We need to know whether allowing that match to go ahead has had an impact on the number of cases in the Liverpool region which is higher than in other regions.

"Although there was no lockdown in the UK when the match was played, or restrictions on large gatherings, it seems nobody looked at allowing thousands of people to head to Liverpool from a coronavirus hotspot.

"As well as attending the match to cheer their team, the fans would have visited pubs and restaurants, and stayed in hotels."

She said she would welcome a scientific investigation into the impact of allowing the game to go ahead.

"There should be an investigation at some stage because we need to learn lessons from this. We will face future pandemics, so we need to work out how to respond," she told Xinhua.

"On the basis of the higher than average cases of COVID-19, we need to look at a potential link."

Eagle served as a Labour minister on a government COBRA committee to help prepare Britain for a pandemic.

She added: "The irony is that if the match had been scheduled to take place in Madrid this would not have happened."

The call for an independent inquiry was backed by a public health expert, professor John Ashton who has worked on WHO projects across the world.

The academic, a Liverpool FC supporter, said the Madrid match should not have taken place.

"It quite possibly has contributed to extra deaths and COVID-19 casualties in the city area. I would support an inquiry into this."

In the first leg in Madrid, Atletico beat Liverpool 1-0, winning 3-2 in the second leg in Liverpool, to send the holders out of the competition.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Liang Jun)

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