The family of a lifelong Liverpool supporter who contracted coronavirus after attending the Champions League match against Atlético Madrid days before the UK’s lockdown is demanding an inquiry into why the game was allowed to go ahead.
Richard Mawson, 70, from Kirkdale, Merseyside, went to watch his team on March 11 after the government said there was ‘no reason’ for people not to, despite thousands of fans travelling from Spain which was hit hard by Covid-19.
He began experiencing symptoms two weeks later and was admitted to Anfield Hospital, where he died on April 17.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, his wife Mary and son Jamie – who believe he contracted the virus at the match – demanded a full inquiry into why the game was allowed to go ahead.
Richard Mawson, 70, from Kirkdale, Merseyside, pictured with his wife Mary, passed away from Covid-19 a month after attending the Liverpool match against Atlético Madrid days before the UK’s lockdown
Mary told how her husband was ‘fit and healthy’ with no underlying health conditions, and went to the gym two to three times a week.
She said: ‘Obviously the coronavirus was going around, but when your government is standing up and and saying, “Oh it’s fine, go ahead” and you’re a lifelong supporter and you feel so passionate about them, you go with what your government tells you.
‘Cheltenham was on, so everything was alright according to the government, which then, the following week, they decide they were going on lockdown.
‘But the government acted too late; they knew this was coming up, but they didn’t do anything about it.’
Jamie, of Formby, described his father as a ‘loving, caring and funny’ person who dedicated his life to his small family.
Mary told how her husband – a lifelong Liverpool fan – was ‘fit and healthy’ with no underlying health conditions, and went to the gym two to three times a week
‘He’s been watching Liverpool for about 62, 63 years and he’s been doing the same journey from his home in Kirkdale to the grounds,’ he said.
‘On the night of the game on the 11th of March, he made the same journey again, obviously we got knocked out of the cup that night, but two weeks later he started to develop symptoms of the Covid.
‘High temperature, sweats, and then one or two days later he was starting to become completely breathless. My mum phoned an ambulance which came quickly, he went into Aintree Hospital and unfortunately we didn’t see him again, he died on April 17.’
Mary said his GP had initially suspected he had the flu, as Richard didn’t have the cough typically associated with the coronavirus. He later tested positive in hospital.
Mary and son Jamie – who believe Richard contracted the virus at the match – demanded a full inquiry into why the game was allowed to go ahead. Pictured with BBC Breakfast host Jon Kay
Jamie claimed he is ’99 per cent certain’ his father contracted the deadly infection at the Liverpool match.
‘My dad seldom went out, maybe to pick my daughter up from work,’ he said. ‘Given the time when he developed the symptoms and then he became really ill, then two weeks after that he passed away, I’m 99 per cent certain he did pick it up from the game.
‘He had to walk past the away fans, the Atlético fans, and I’m 99 per cent certain he did pick it up from that game. But for us as a family it’s so difficult to take because… he was 70, but he was fit and healthy, he had no underlying health issues, and for him to deteriorate in such a fashion, it’s very hard for us to take.’
He added that many Atlético fans stayed in the city for a couple of days after the game, and said his family are trying to reach out to the government for a ‘full independent inquiry’.
Jamie, of Formby, described his father as a ‘loving, caring and funny’ person who dedicated his life to his small family. Pictured with his mother Mary on BBC Breakfast today
Jamie claimed he is ’99 per cent certain’ his father Richard (pictured) contracted the deadly infection at the Liverpool match, after walking past away fans
When Richard began showing symptoms, Mary said she ‘stuck by the rules’ and isolated herself at their home, meaning she was alone while her husband battled the illness.
‘Once the doctor said I wasn’t showing any symptoms, my family came and got me. We’re only a small family,’ she added.
‘I don’t believe this government know what they’re doing. I wouldn’t listen to them… I don’t trust what they’re saying and I’m terrified.’
Jamie added that the relaxing of lockdown rules ‘really worries him’, particularly after witnessing ‘thousands’ of people visit the beach near their home this weekend.
‘There seems to be a relaxing around coronavirus,’ he said. ‘I’m worried for the fact that, if we get a second hit, and I’m sure it’ll come, and people are not taking the right advice and precautions, it’s going to be another sad ending.’
Liverpool’s Champions League match and Cheltenham Festival led to more coronavirus deaths and suffering, top scientist claims
Professor Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology and director of the TwinsUK Registry at King’s College London, who is leading the UK’s biggest Covid-tracking project, said last week that the March sporting events ’caused increased suffering and death’.
Data gathered from millions of volunteers found coronavirus ‘hotspots’ shortly after the events, the BBC reports.
Professor Spector says the case rates ‘increased several-fold’ locally but Number 10 said many factors could be behind the rises.
Sporting events on the continent had, in some cases, already been called off or held behind closed doors without spectators.
But the UK was continuing to hold mass gatherings, with Boris Johnson saying at the time that people should ‘as far as possible, go about business as usual’.
Both England and Scotland had a full schedule of football in the first week of March.
Five horse racing meetings and the Six Nations rugby match at Twickenham between England and Wales – which the prime minister attended – had also taken place.
Twenty-four hours before Cheltenham opened up to 250,000 spectators, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘There’s no reason for people not to attend such events or to cancel them at this stage.’
Professor Spector, who works at King’s College London, said that ‘people will have probably died prematurely’ because of the decision.