Coronavirus: Liverpool-Atletico Madrid UCL tie played a role in rise - chief doctor

Liverpool's Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid could be a factor in the rise of coronavirus cases in the area, according to the city council's director of public health Matthew Ashton.

Jurgen Klopp's side were dumped out of the competition after Atletico won the round-of-16 second leg tie 3-2 at Anfield on March 11.

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The match went ahead despite reservations from a number of politicians and Ashton has said it was wrong to play the game in front of a sellout crowd.

"It was not the right decision to stage the match," he told the Guardian. "People don't make bad decisions on purpose -- perhaps the seriousness of the situation wasn't being understood across government at that time.

"Although we will never know, the Atletico Madrid game could have been one of the cultural events and gatherings that influenced the rise in Liverpool.

"It is definitely one to be included on the list for learning and for a future inquiry, so that organisations can learn and not make similar mistakes."

The coronavirus outbreak has since seen football stopped around the world with the Champions League being suspended indefinitely along with the Europa League.

Intensive care director Luca Lorini also said Atalanta's Champions League clash with Valencia in February worked as an accelerator for the coronavirus.

Atletico, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atalanta are the four sides to have already qualified for the quarterfinals.