The governing body of European football, UEFA, announced on Friday that the men’s Champions League final will be moved from St Petersburg due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The final will now take place on May 28th in Paris.
UEFA also said teams from Russia and Ukraine participating in UEFA competitions will play their matches at neutral venues.
“At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams participating in UEFA competitions must play their home games at neutral venues until further notice,” UEFA said.
“The UEFA Executive Committee has further decided to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, if necessary, to re-evaluate the legal and factual situation as it develops and take further decisions, if necessary,” it added.
It added that it would “fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the delivery of rescues to football players and their families in Ukraine who are facing appalling human suffering, destruction and displacement.”
IT’S PITY: KREMLIN
The Champions League final was due to be played at Zenit St. Petersburg’s stadium on May 28, with thousands of fans from across the continent expected to attend the flagship match of European club football.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call: “It’s a shame that such a decision was made. St. Petersburg could have provided all the favorable conditions to hold this festival of football.”
British Culture Secretary for Sport Nadine Dorries backed UEFA’s decision.
“Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimize its unprovoked, deliberate and unnecessary assault on a sovereign democratic state.”
St. Petersburg Stadium is known as Gazprom Stadium after a sponsorship deal with Russia’s state-owned energy company, which also sponsors the Champions League and UEFA national team competition Euro 2024.
Also read | Barcelona and Napoli players display ‘Stop War’ banner amid conflict between Russia and Ukraine.