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Liverpool call on right to defend cup
Mike Collett |
May 26, 2005 12:36 IST
Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has called on UEFA to let his team defend the Champions League title they won after beating AC Milan on Wednesday.
He was backed by Milan's manager Carlo Ancelotti who said Liverpool should be allowed into the competition next season after their astonishing victory at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Asked what arguments the club could put forward to European soccer's governing body, Parry told Sky Sports:
"You look at the support we brought, you look at the worldwide audience tonight, which I think they reckon is going to be a record, and you look at the game itself.
"I think we have to be given a shot. I think we are worthy champions and I think that's what the world will say."
Ancelotti said: "Yes, I think they should be allowed to defend the title," while Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez added: "Common sense says the winner must defend the title".
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who was handed the trophy by UEFA president Lennart Johansson, said: "I hope the people above let us defend it. It's called the Champions League and the champions should be in it."
Under competition rules a maximum of four clubs from each country can take part in the competition, and Liverpool missed out on a berth for next season by finishing fifth in England.
However, one of the great ironies of the situation is that by winning the cup for the fifth time they can keep the trophy in perpetuity -- but not defend it.
UEFA's executive committee, chaired by Johansson, next meet in Manchester on June 16 and will discuss the issue then.
Trailing 3-0 at halftime, Liverpool roared back to 3-3 at 90 minutes and won 3-2 on penalties after extra time on Wednesday -- the biggest turnaround in European Cup final history.
England are entitled to four teams in next season's competition. Champions Chelsea and runners-up Arsenal go into the group phase while Manchester United and Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton head for the final qualifying round.
At the moment Liverpool will only be able to take part in the UEFA Cup next season.
Johansson and Sepp Blatter, head of world governing body FIFA, have recently supported Liverpool's calls to be allowed to defend the trophy if they won it.