UEFA has been forced to order a re-run of the draw for this season’s Champions League last 16 after a botched ceremony in Switzerland – and some fans pointed the finger at Russian legend Andrey Arshavin.
Monday’s draw at UEFA HQ in Nyon appeared to throw up some intriguing ties – not least Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo being paired with Lionel Messi’s PSG.
But the dust had yet to settle before fans and pundits were crying foul across social media about an apparent error in the draw procedure.
The mistake centered on Manchester United, who were initially placed with Villarreal.
However, as the two teams met in the group stage, they were not eligible to face each other in the last 16.
Manchester City were then drawn to play Villarreal instead, with Atletico Madrid next popping up.
The problem, though, was that Manchester United had not been returned to the pot of eligible teams to play Atletico, when in reality they should have been.
Instead, United ended up appearing in the last tie of the draw against French giants PSG.
— Mark Critchley (@mjcritchley) December 13, 2021
Explaining the error, UEFA laid the blame at the door of an external software provider while announcing a re-run for later on Monday.
“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,” said the governing body.
As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 1500 CET.
— UEFA (@UEFA) December 13, 2021
However, that didn’t stop some fans and pundits poking fun at former Russian international Arshavin, who had been on hand to help conduct proceedings.
Some accused the former Arsenal and Zenit star of being at fault, even though he was one of several figures involved.
Poor Andrey Arshavin. pic.twitter.com/KwJmPuRZ6W
— GOAL (@goal) December 13, 2021
Cristiano in 2021 :
— #UCL #NBA (@Twitugal) December 13, 2021
I understand everyones anger though. If UEFA have any intergrity (they dont). They will do a re-draw. Arshavin should be led to the nearest police station too.
— Kam #8 (@Culturecams) December 13, 2021
Did Andrey Arshavin just break the Champions League draw?
— Dominic Fifield (@domfifield) December 13, 2021
footballers are just treated like robots by the governing bodies these days. fancy referring to Arshavin as an external service provider with a software issue. poor. https://t.co/FSBXHi4gbA
— Matt Davies-Adams (@MattDaviesAdams) December 13, 2021
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 13, 2021
Andrey Arshavin? An ex Arsenal Player?? No wonder there was a mistake in the UCL draw pic.twitter.com/QIvof0KWeF
— Drayy (@drayy09) December 13, 2021
Only players who had won this prestigious competition should be allowed to do the #UCLdraw next time.
Just look at Arsenal's Arshavin messing up there.
— Uncle Wilson™ (@iam_wilsons) December 13, 2021
Arshavin, 40, was at the draw as a representative of St. Petersburg, where this season’s final will be held.
“People love football [in St. Petersburg], it’s a big event for our city, everyone dreams of holding such a big event,” Arshavin had said of his hometown, which hosts the final at the Gazprom Arena on May 28.
Arshavin also revealed that his fondest Champions League memory as player had been scoring a late winner for Arsenal in their 2011 last-16 first-leg win over Barcelona.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 13, 2021
Even after his retirement, Arshavin continues to make new memories for the tournament – albeit in ways not previously imagined.