In an unprecedented turn of events, UEFA was forced to redo the Champions League Round of 16 draw after errors surfaced in the original procedure. That forced the European governing body to void the results and order a redraw three hours later.
That first draw came up with eight matchups that included a Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester United matchup that would have seen Lionel Messi facing Cristiano Ronaldo. But that dream matchup will be scratched due to errors that UEFA blamed on third-party software. Teams from the same group and country are not permitted to face one another according to tournament rules, but the software apparently failed to adhere to them.
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
The first error was seen on live TV when Manchester United came up in the draw for Villarreal’s opponent. Except Man United shouldn’t have been in the pot to begin with since the Red Devils played in the same group with Villarreal. The rules state that teams from the same group or country cannot be drawn together in the Round of 16.
Then it was the media that picked up on the other error. When it came time to selecting the Atletico Madrid opponent for the Round of 16, apparently Manchester United was not one of the balls selected. Media reports say that Liverpool was instead put in the pot when it shouldn’t have: Liverpool played Atletico Madrid in the group stage.
If Man Utd ball wasn’t in the pot when Atleti drew Bayern, then that’s an issue for United, Bayern, Atleti and PSG, who will all feel that the draw wasn’t fair
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) December 13, 2021
Don’t see how UEFA can let this draw stand. Man Utd were by mistake omitted from the draw against Atletico Madrid.
— Raphael Honigstein💙 (@honigstein) December 13, 2021
Manchester United no fue incluido en el sorteo del Atlético Madrid; y el propio Manchester salió en el sorteo del Villarreal, cruce que no podía darse ya que compartieron grupo.
Ojo que se habla de una posible repetición de sorteo.pic.twitter.com/QsF2wMgPG3
— Sudanalytics (@sudanalytics_) December 13, 2021
It led Atletico Madrid to ask UEFA for an explanation “and a solution after the errors committed in the draw for the Champions League Round of 16.
Estamos en conversaciones con UEFA para pedir explicaciones y una solución después de los errores cometidos en el sorteo de octavos de Champions League
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) December 13, 2021
One report claimed that Villarreal were also petitioning to have the draw redone.
#Villarreal also agree the draw has to be redone and will fight for that to happen. It clearly affects the integrity of the competition
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) December 13, 2021
The teams contacting UEFA about the draw reportedly also included Real Madrid, which wanted its draw result against Benfica to stand. Los Merengues clearly liked their original draw, now having to settle for a much tougher matchup against PSG.
“I apologize that we have had to gather again,” said UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchettin before the second draw took place. “There were issues caused by a malfunction that is run through an outside provider.
“After the draw the external independent auditor informed UEFA that they could not guarantee that the problem with the IT system did not exist from the start. And as a result, the full draw needs to be redone. From now on, every suggestion made by the software will be checked in real time by UEFA officials to ensure accuracy. This may mean that the draw takes slightly longer, but I’m sure you will agree that it’s the right thing to do.”
These were the results of the re-draw:
|Match||Home team – 1st leg||Home team – 2nd leg|
|1||RB Salzburg||vs||Bayern Munich|
|2||Sporting CP||vs||Manchester City|
|5||Atletico Madrid||vs||Manchester United|
Compare those to the original draw, which was scratched:
|Match||Home team – 1st leg||Home team – 2nd leg|
|2||Villarreal CF||vs||Manchester City|
|3||Atletico Madrid||vs||Bayern Munich|
|8||Paris Saint-Germain||vs||Manchester United|
Between the pressure from the clubs and the pressure from the media, the re-draw was the right thing to do, although there will be some teams that won’t be happy by the new opponents they’ve been dealt.
It’s genuinely hard to see that draw can stand. It affected six of the ties, really. United should have been in with Atletico, but Liverpool placed instead.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) December 13, 2021
UEFA will have to address this situation either way because it’s clear there was an error and all the evidence points to Manchester United not having been included as a potential opponent for Atlético Madrid when they should have been
— Andrew Cesare (@AndrewCesare) December 13, 2021
If a team wasn’t in the pot for a part of the draw they should have been, as was the case with Man United for the Atletico draw, they must at least be considering redrawing it #UCLdraw
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) December 13, 2021
I mean, the draw has to be redone, right? That is clearly a huge mistake. Manchester United first paired with Villarreal in the last 16, which wasn’t possible, then their ball wasn’t placed in the draw to potentially face Atletico Madrid. #UCL #UCLDraw
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 13, 2021