The Champions League final in May will be moved from Saint Petersburg to another venue outside Russia following Vladimir Putin’s order to invade Ukraine.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called for an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee on Friday. It’s expected that UEFA confirm the change of stadium for the global event on 28 May. The Champions League final was supposed to take place at the Gazprom Stadium, the home of Zenit Saint Petersburg.
“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,” UEFA said through a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people,” UEFA added.
“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 release concluded.
Russian forces launched a military assault on Ukraine, with UEFA coming under pressure to act fast and change the Champions League final host nation. UEFA’s commercial partnership with Gazprom also came under scrutiny, with fans and politicians calling for the Russian energy giant state company to be dropped as sponsors.
European football wants to isolate Russia
There are also concerns regarding the matches Russia is supposed to host in March at national team level in the qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar.
“We call on you to stop considering Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities as venues for international football competitions and to choose as a first and very urgent step an alternative venue for the Champions League final on May 28, 2022,” a letter signed by a group of European parliament members asked UEFA.
“In addition, we appeal to you to convene a special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, to terminate cooperation with Gazprom as UEFA sponsor and to consider sanctions against individual Russian officials who are complicit in the violation of international law,” the message added.
Football Supporters Europe demanded an “imminent announcement” over arrangements for the Champions League final after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.
UEFA allowed all games in the Europa League and Conference League on Thursday to proceed as scheduled.
Before their Europa League clash, the players at Napoli and FC Barcelona held a banner that had “Stop War” written on it. UEFA chose not to show it during the live broadcast, infuriating thousands watching at home.
— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) February 24, 2022