By Zakaa Lazarus
UEFA moves Champions League final from Russia to France
UEFA, the European soccer’s governing body, has moved this season’s Champions League final to Paris from St. Petersburg as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
UEFA announced the decision at an emergency executive committee meeting on Friday morning.
The final, on May 28, was initially scheduled to be played at the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is now expected to take place at the Stade de France, Paris, the capital of France.
During the meeting, UEFA also announced that no European competition games will be played in either Russia or Ukraine till the conflict ends.
“The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe,” a statement by the European football governing body read.
“The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.”
The soccer body also said France President Emmanuel Macron was instrumental in the selection of the new venue.
“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis,” it added.
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.”
UEFA said club sides in Russia and Ukraine still cof the three continental club competitions will play their home matches at a neutral venue.
“At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice,” the statement read.
“The UEFA Executive Committee further determined to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required, to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary.”
Russia and Ukraine are both scheduled to play World Cup play-off matches in March.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Putin also warned global leaders against actions that will stop Russia’s operation in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s interior ministry said Russia had begun attacks on the country, as explosions were reportedly heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, and other parts of the country.