Lyon to lodge protest over Man City Champions League quarter-final referee

Lyon may launch a protest to UEFA after Dutch referee Danny Makkelie was put in charge of their Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester City.

The French club have to be crowned European champions to qualify for next season's tournament after finishing seventh in Ligue One when the covid-19 pandemic halted the campaign.

Lyon's elimination on Saturday night would see Ajax qualify automatically for the group stages of the Champions League – and that would be worth £100million to the Amsterdam club.

If the French club did prevail in Lisbon then Ajax would go into a play-off.

Questions are already being asked in both France and Holland about the wisdom of putting a Dutch referee in charge of a game that could have huge financial ramifications on a club from his own country.

Former top Dutch referee Dick Jol expects Lyon to complain about Makkelie's appointment.

Jol said: “UEFA should not have put Danny Makkelie in this position. Never!

“Can you imagine the French newspapers? They are going to be dishing it out about him taking charge of the game before a ball has been kicked.

“Financially – and in a sporting way – there is so much at stake in this game. Makkelie is not to blame. I don't doubt his integrity for one second.

“He has a massive reputation with UEFA and he is making an international career in a great way.

“But what happens if he gives a penalty to City late in the game? And if City win, fingers will get pointed at him.”

Makkelie, 37, is a former police officer who became a full-time referee 10 years ago.

He is regarded as the world's best VAR official after being given the role for the 2018 World Cup final.

There is a precedent for referees being changed for big European games.

In 1994, Dutch official John Blankenstein was replaced by Englishman Philip Don for the Champions League final between AC Milan and Barcelona.

No official reason was given for the switch, but it is believed that Milan were not happy about having a Dutchman in charge for a game that would see Johan Cruuff coaching a Barcelona team that included Ronald Koeman.

Jol, the 64-year-old cousin of former Tottenham boss Martin Jol, added: “Milan were very angry back in 1994 because of the presence of Cruyff and Koeman.

“I would think that there is now the same mood in Lyon.”

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