Real Madrid fume at UEFA ‘lie’ over Champions League redraw – sources
Real Madrid are furious with UEFA over their “shameful” handling of the Champions League round-of-16 draw, sources told ESPN, with the club accusing European football’s governing body of “lying” over the problems that led to the process being repeated.
Madrid were initially paired with Benfica on Monday before the first draw was declared void after errors were spotted in the ways potential opponents were selected for fellow La Liga sides Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
UEFA blamed the issue on “a technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials as to which teams are eligible to play each other.”
Sources have told ESPN that Madrid, whose tie with Benfica was drawn before those mistakes took place, were insistent that their pairing should stand.
However UEFA opted for a full round-of-16 redraw hours later, when Madrid were paired with Paris Saint-Germain.
“It is a lie that it was a software error,” a club source told ESPN. “It is human error, beginning with the second pairing. Our pairing [Real Madrid-Benfica] was legal.”
ESPN have contacted UEFA for a comment on Madrid’s stance.
Real Madrid’s Director of Institutional Relations Emilio Butragueno described the situation as “surprising, regrettable and very hard to understand, when you take into account the millions of fans who were following the draw.”
“Having said that, we go into this tie with a lot of excitement. We’re aware of what this competition means for the club and the fans,” he told Real Madrid TV. “We’re also aware of the difficulties, with the quality of players [PSG] have. We believe the team will play two great games. They’ll be fantastic for football.”
The relationship between Madrid and UEFA had already been severely damaged this year in the fallout from the club’s involvement in the proposed Super League.
UEFA began disciplinary action against Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus in April over their continued backing for the scheme.
They were later forced to suspend those proceedings, after a Madrid court granted the Super League a preliminary injunction and referred the question of whether the clubs should be protected by free trade laws to the European Court of Justice.
“Maybe UEFA have to be reminded who Real Madrid are,” president Florentino Perez said in pointed remarks during the club’s annual general meeting last month.
“UEFA have to be reminded of Real Madrid’s history. Real Madrid have participated in every necessary innovation over the years since its foundation.
“The current state of football leaves us no choice but to keep defending our legitimate interests.” ESPN