UEFA to investigate United for 'illicit chanting'

The closing stages of the second leg were marred by a minor incident of violence when a small group of Liverpool supporters began celebrating among the home fans.

United v Liverpool - cropped

A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford gave Liverpool a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Manchester United are to face a UEFA investigation following the "illicit chanting" that occurred during their Europa League tie with Liverpool earlier this month.

UEFA opted against sanctioning United following the first leg of the last-16 clash at Anfield, despite the club admonishing their own supporters after a section of the away following was heard singing songs making reference to the Hillsborough and Heysel stadium disasters.

European football's governing body did, however, charge both United - for crowd disturbances, the throwing of objects and stairways being blocked - and Liverpool - for illicit chants, setting off fireworks, throwing of objects, crowd disturbances and arriving late for kick-off - following last Thursday's fractious second leg at Old Trafford.

And, when contacted by Omnisport on Wednesday, UEFA confirmed its intention to also investigate United for the "illicit chanting" heard in both games.

A statement read: "UEFA has recently been made aware of several reports concerning alleged illicit chanting on the occasion of the UEFA Europa League ties between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC of 10 and 17 March 2016. 

"As a result, a UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector decided to investigate further and gather potential evidence. The two clubs have thus been asked to provide statements relating to the alleged incidents within 10 days."

UEFA's decision not to investigate chants from a section of the United support in the immediate aftermath of the first leg at Anfield - a judgement based on the fact Spanish referee Carlos Velasco did not mention the incidents in his official report - was met with widespread surprise.

Chants of 'murderers', which have been directed towards Liverpool supporters by their United counterparts for several years, refer to the Hillsborough and Heysel tragedies in the 1980s, in which 135 people lost their lives.

United fans were also heard to make reference to The Sun's infamous front page in the wake of Hillsborough — which wrongfully claimed Liverpool supporters were to blame for the disaster — at Anfield, by singing 'The Sun was right, you’re murderers'.

The animosity between United and Liverpool fans was on full display at Old Trafford a week later, with UEFA's "illicit chanting" charge on Liverpool stemming from chants referring to the 1958 Munich air disaster, which resulted in 23 people — including eight United players - dying.

The closing stages of the second leg were marred by a minor incident of violence when a small group of Liverpool supporters began celebrating among the home fans.

A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford gave Liverpool a 3-1 aggregate victory and a place in the last eight, where they will face Jurgen Klopp's former club Borussia Dortmund.