Champions League final to be moved from Russia: report
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Europe’s soccer governing body, has announced that the Champions League final will be moved from St. Petersburg following the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine, ESPN reported.
“Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10:00 CET on Friday 25 February, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions,” UEFA said in a statement on Thursday.
Sources told the sports media outlet that UEFA is already considering alternative venues to hold the championship match, ruling out London’s Wembley Stadium due to it being booked for the English Football League playoffs on the same weekend.
In another statement, UEFA shared it is deeply concerned about the security situation in Europe, adding it has “condemned the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” according to ESPN.
“As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people,” UEFA said.
“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow,” it added.
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia has launched a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday.
In a televised address before the attack, Putin claimed the operation is to protect eastern Ukraine from what he called a “regime.”
The Kremlin has been building its forces along the Ukraine border for weeks, also conducting joint military operations in Belarus.
The U.S. along with its NATO allies have issued firm warnings to Russia to pull back on its invasion attempt in the hope of lowering tension in the region.
Krestovsky Stadium, a host venue for the 2018 World Cup, was set to host the Champions League final on May 28, being awarded the game in 2021 after it was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN noted.