Belfast Telegraph

Seville v Manchester City: Vincent Kompany backs fans over booing of Uefa's Champions League anthem

By Tim Rich

Much of the focus on Manchester City's game in Seville tomorrow will be on the few seconds before kick-off, when the Champions League anthem is played.

The anthem was booed at the Etihad last month - most probably because of Uefa's stance on financial fair play. European football's governing body will decide what sanctions to impose at a meeting of its ethics and disciplinary body on 19 November.

A repetition in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan would increase the demands for sanctions, but the City captain, Vincent Kompany, sees no reason why pressure should be put on the club's travelling support to respect the anthem.

"Uefa can do what they want to do," he said. "But, if people feel that [booing] is the right thing to do, then they have the right to do it. How else can they show their frustration and have a voice that matters?

"It is a joke. We have had many matches in Europe where there has been racial abuse and we have had to put up with it. There have been times when we have been sanctioned at the same time as the club that was actually perpetrating those chants. In Moscow [where CSKA were forced to play behind closed doors because of racism charges] we were not allowed to have any support inside the stadium and I don't see what our fans did wrong.

"I have experienced it as well when I was a kid playing at Anderlecht, where you suffered racial abuse in certain games. This is not justifiable. There is nothing holy about the Champions League anthem."

Kompany accepts City's achievements will not resonate beyond these shores unless they make an impact in the Champions League. This afternoon they fly to Andalusia in a familiar situation, having to hack their way through a difficult group. Their last match against Sevilla and the previous one at Borussia Mönchengladbach were won with very late goals.

So, too, was Saturday's 2-1 win over Norwich City. But for John Ruddy's failure to hold a straightforward cross, this would have been two points dropped because of a rare, unforced error from Joe Hart, whose heroics had spared City probable defeat in Mönchengladbach.

The England keeper was not keen to speak to journalists after the final whistle at the Etihad Stadium - "I can't talk after I've thrown one in like that," Hart acknowledged.

Kompany, however, said: "For us as players, the Champions League is the last thing we have to achieve to prove we have become a big club.

"In England it has been undoubted that over the last four or five years we have been one of the top teams, but that is not the case in Europe.

"I understand why the Premier League is considered so important because it is so hard to win, but we have to go to the next level in the Champions League."

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