It has now been confirmed that the 2022 Champions League final will be moved from its original host city of St Petersburg.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces presented UEFA – an organisation not known for being shy in accepting favour and cash from the country – with both a moral and logistical nightmare.
There has been an understandable outcry to sanction Vladimir Putin in any way possible, and taking the Champions League final from Russia is one way that UEFA can harm the regime.
It may also be the sad case that – fingers crossed otherwise – that NATO forces are left with no option but to launch their own wave of attacks on Russia….making it impossible for the country to safely host the final, which is scheduled for May 28.
Numerous media outlets were reporting ahead of time that UEFA would imminently announce their intention to move the Champions League final away from St Petersburg.
The authority called an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee today (Friday February 25) to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe, and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” a statement from the governing body read.
“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow.”
The situation has been complicated yet further by the revelation that the football associations of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic have told UEFA that they will refuse to travel to Russia to play scheduled World Cup qualifiers in the coming months.
Paris Confirmed as 2022 Champions League Host
It has been speculated that London was on the shortlist to host the revised 2022 Champions League final.
While Wembley Stadium is tied up hosting the Championship and League Two play-off finals on the weekend of May 28, other venues – including the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and West Ham’s Olympic Stadium – had been mooted.
But following the executive committee meeting, it has been confirmed by UEFA that the Stade de France in Paris will instead take on hosting duties.
“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,” a spokesperson revealed.
“The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.
“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.”
Another outcome of the meeting is that all Russian and Ukraine club and national teams will be forced to play their upcoming internationals and continental matches at a neutral venue. That includes the scheduled World Cup qualifiers, plus Spartak Moscow’s endeavours in the Europa League.
UEFA have also committed to a ‘provision of rescue’ for footballers and their families in Ukraine that are at risk of ‘human suffering, destruction and displacement.’