Uefa rubbishes 'fixed' Roma-Liverpool draw

LONDON • European football's governing body Uefa was forced to rubbish speculation that Friday's Champions League draw was fixed, after it emerged that Roma put tickets for a return-leg clash against Liverpool on sale before the two sides were announced as opponents.

The Serie A side appeared to offer fans the chance to buy tickets for a May 2 semi-final, second-leg encounter against Liverpool at Stadio Olimpico on Friday morning.

When the draw was conducted in Nyon, Switzerland later in the day - at around 1.15pm Central European Time - Roma were indeed drawn to face Jurgen Klopp's men, with the return leg in Rome on May 2.

Holders Real Madrid and German champions Bayern Munich feature in the other semi-final, and their second leg at the Bernabeu will take place on May 1.

Roma's website error was taken down swiftly, but not before some supporters took a screenshot of the page, reported the Daily Mail.

One football fan, @lewissimpsonn_, tweeted: "Never seen something so rigged in my life, Roma selling tickets at 10am this morning against Liverpool away for season ticket holders."

But Uefa insisted that there was nothing untoward behind the ticket advertisement.

A Uefa spokesman told Omnisport: "The Italian club contacted Uefa to say they had a technical problem on their ticketing portal partner when they were making ticketing tests."

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter claimed in 2016 that some European football draws have been fixed in the past with the use of hot and cold balls. European football's governing body Uefa labelled the claims "completely absurd", while the sport's world governing body, Fifa, assured fans the draw will not be manipulated.

"There's no truth to that," Chris Unger, Fifa's director of competitions, said in response to speculation about the use of warmer or colder plastic balls.

Last year, Spanish newspaper AS suggested that Uefa had used a heated ball to avoid an all-Spanish title decider, pitting Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid together in the semi-finals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 15, 2018, with the headline 'Uefa rubbishes 'fixed' Roma-Liverpool draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe