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22nd Feb 2022

UEFA likely to strip Russia of Champions League final after Ukraine invasion

Simon Lloyd

This year’s Champions League final appears set to be moved away from Russia

UEFA appears increasingly likely to move this year’s Champions League final in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The showpiece event of European club football is scheduled to take place in St Petersburg on May 28, but the governing body has come under increasing pressure to find an alternative host city after developments overnight.

Latest developments from Ukraine.

Footage released in the early hours of Tuesday morning showed Russian military vehicles crossing the border into eastern Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has given the order for Russian soldiers to perform “peacekeeping” functions in the rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk after he said Moscow would recognise their independence.

The move has been condemned by several world leaders, many – including Boris Johnson. Vowing to place immediate sanctions on Russia as a result.

The continent’s governing body for football has also been urged to take swift action regarding May’s final. The consensus thinks it should no longer be hosted on Russian soil.

UEFA have been monitoring developments around the Ukraine-Russia border over recent weeks, though had not, on Tuesday morning, formulated a contingency plan for the game in St Petersburg. This is now expected to change.

Alternative Champions League final destinations.

Wembley had been named as a possible alternative host stadium for the final. The reluctance for UEFA to change the date of May 28 – when England’s national stadium will host the League Two playoff final the same day – appears to have ruled it out as a possibility.

Istanbul could be given the chance to stage the game. Due to being replaced by Porto as last year’s Champions League final host because of Covid.

The BBC report that UEFA are also in dialogue with Dynamo Kiev and Sporting Lisbon over their Youth League last-16 tie which is scheduled to be played in the Ukrainian capital on March 2.

Zenit St Petersburg is the only club from Russia or Ukraine to remain in UEFA competition his season. They are currently 3-2 down to Real Betis ahead of a second leg Europa League tie in Seville.