UEFA considers moving Champions League final from St Petersburg

UEFA is considering moving its Champions League final away from St Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena after Russian troops entered east Ukraine.

The 67,000-seat Gazprom Arena, which also hosted matches during last summer’s UEFA European Championship, is scheduled to stage the Champions League final on May 28.

The escalating military crisis in Ukraine has led to the UK introducing sanctions against Russia. It appears increasingly likely that UEFA will move the final of its showpiece club tournament away from Russia and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today (Tuesday) said that there was “no chance of holding football tournaments in Russia that invades sovereign countries”.

Nadine Dorries, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has also expressed “serious concerns” about sporting events due to be held in Russia, including the Champions League final. Dorries said she will discuss the matter with the relevant governing bodies.

With four English clubs still in the Champions League, there is a chance that at least one of them will be involved in the final of the competition in May. UEFA is said to be considering contingency plans for the final but its current position is that the match will be played at the Gazprom Arena.

In a statement to The Guardian, the governing body said: “UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation. At present, there are no plans to change the venue.”

It would represent the third year in a row that UEFA has been forced to move the Champions League final away from its original venue. Last year, the final between Chelsea and Manchester City was played at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto instead of Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium after Turkey was added to the UK’s red list of COVID-19 travel destinations.

Istanbul had also been due to host the 2020 Champions League final before UEFA took the decision to stage a final eight-style tournament in Portugal amid the difficulties posed by COVID-19. Istanbul is now set to host the final in 2023.

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