MANCHESTER City are facing a UEFA charge, because their fans booed the Champions League anthem.
The absurd, unprecedented action — in essence a curb on the freedom of speech and protest at football matches — comes after another game in which City fans made their contempt known for those at the helm of football in Europe.
And it comes at a time when UEFA president, Michel Platini is banned from football activities for 90 days, while an investigation continues into a payment of £1.35million delivered to him by tainted FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.
UEFA confirmed to Sportsmail that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against City after match officials reported the ‘disruption of competition anthem’ before kick-off in their match against Sevilla on Wednesday night.
The UEFA Champions League anthem, officially named ‘Champions League’, was based on the GF Handel work ‘Zadok the Priest’ and adapted by Englishman Tony Britten after he was commissioned in 1992.
The piece is performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra while the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus sing the lyrics in English, French and German – UEFA’s official languages.
A UEFA spokesperson said the case will be heard by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on November 19.
UEFA are in disarray right now, with FIFA’s ethics commission announcing this week that acting president Angel Maria Villar Llona also faces a ban from football, alongside Franz Beckenbauer.
Yet in this rotten climate, UEFA have decided to pursue Manchester City once more — angered that the fanfare that precedes Champions League matches is not treated with due reverence.
The piece of music – adapted from Handel’s Zadok the Priest with words provided by English composer Tony Britten — is played before each Champions League fixture.
At City it has been a tradition to boo throughout — as a protest against Platini’s financial fair play rules.
City supporters feel their club were unfairly singled out when hit with a £50m fine in 2013. The fans’ belief is that UEFA favoured the established elite when tying the amount an owner could spend to its existing turnover.
FFP hit the rocks following a legal challenge this year and has subsequently been greatly watered down.
Yet City’s dissatisfaction remains and the fans’ booing sums up their anger at what they see as UEFA’s attempt to bar them out of the elite. This will do little to convince them otherwise.
The protests have taken on fresh relevance recently with UEFA beset by allegations of corruption.