UEFA to repeat Champions League draw after shocking error (VIDEO)
UEFA will repeat the draw for the Champions League last 16 after a mistake involving Manchester United, who ended up being paired with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
The initial draw in Switzerland on Monday, which was conducted in part by Russian icon Andrey Arshavin, had appeared to set up a mouthwatering chapter in the never-ending Messi versus Ronaldo saga – but football fans look set to miss out on seeing the two dominant forces in world football renew their rivalry after UEFA made the call to repeat the entire draw following protests from several of the involved teams.
"Following 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, a material error occurred in the draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16," said UEFA in a statement.
"As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 15:00 CET (14:00 GMT)."
The events which led to the decision occurred as such: Manchester United were initially drawn alongside La Liga outfit Villarreal, but UEFA rules dictate that teams who played one another in the group stage cannot meet in the round of 16 – with that tie going instead to Manchester City moments later.
But then came the moment which has caused controversy. Atletico Madrid were were drawn from the unseeded bowl – but Manchester United's ball did not seem to be placed back into the pot, meaning that it was impossible for them to have been drawn against Atletico.
That effectively meant not all of the teams in the pot had the equal opportunity to be drawn against other eligible teams.
United's ire was compounded moments later when they were handed a tricky tie against Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain, and due to the ensuing drama speculation quickly rose that the draw may be repeated – something which was later confirmed by UEFA.
Following 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, a material error occurred in the draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.— UEFA (@UEFA) December 13, 2021
As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 1500 CET.— UEFA (@UEFA) December 13, 2021
According to ESPN's Alex Shaw, Atletico Madrid discussed the situation with UEFA, with European football's governing body debating internally if the draw could proceed as it stands – with the formal decision for a do-over coming soon after.
The decision is sure to have caused consternation for at least some of the teams within the draw. Per reporter Guillem Balague, Villarreal (who were drawn against Man City) had petitioned UEFA for a full redraw while Real Madrid, who were paired with Benfica, had asked for any redraw to begin after their ball was picked.