The decision to stage Liverpool’s Champions League hosting of Atletico Madrid as the coronavirus crisis grew “didn’t make any sense” and was “a mistake” according to Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, the mayor of the Spanish capital.
The fixture was the last to be played with fans before Europe’s elite competition was suspended.
Diego Simeone’s charges defeated Liverpool 3-2 in that second leg to secure their progress to the quarter-finals in front of 3,000 Atleti supporters who were allowed to travel from Madrid.
At that point, matches in the top two divisions in Spain were already being played behind closed doors while nurseries, schools and universities were shut.
The country had reported 1,646 cases of the virus, with 782 stemming from the capital. All public events involving more than 1,000 people were banned in Madrid given the escalation of the spread.
“It didn’t make any sense that 3,000 Atletico fans could travel to Anfield at that time,” Martinez-Almedia told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
“It was a mistake. Looking back with hindsight, of course, but I think even at that time there should have been more caution.
“From the day before the game the regional government and Madrid council had already adopted important measures on reducing large gatherings of people.”
Earlier this month, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted it was difficult to prepare for the game in the context of Covid-19 and the state of play in Spain.
“On the Monday morning, I woke up and heard about the situation in Madrid, that they would close the schools and universities from Wednesday, so it was really strange to prepare for that game, to be honest,” he told the club’s official website.
“I usually don’t struggle with things around me. I can build barriers right and left when I prepare for a game, but in that moment it was really difficult.”