The 2022 Champions League final will be played in Paris after Russia was stripped of the match following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.
The final of Europe’s most prestigious club competition was due to be played in St Petersburg on 28 May. Following a meeting yesterday, Uefa confirmed the match would not be held at the Gazprom Arena.
Instead the European football governing body has decided it will be staged at the Stade de France in Paris. Uefa expressed “thanks and appreciation” to French 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.”
It is the third year running the venue of the Champions League final has been moved. In 2020, it was switched from Istanbul to Lisbon because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Turkish city was set to host the game last year instead but it was again moved to Portugal – this time, Porto – because of the pandemic.
“It’s a shame that such a decision has been made,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “St Petersburg could have provided all favourable conditions to hold this festival of soccer.” UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries welcomed “decisive action” by Uefa.
“Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimise its unprovoked, premeditated and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state,” said Dorries.
At yesterday’s meeting, Uefa also ordered Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams to play their home matches away from the region.
Spartak Moscow are the only Russian team left in European club competition this season and have been drawn against German side RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the Europa League.
Spartak, along with other Russian and Ukrainian sides, will “be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice”, said Uefa.
Russia and Ukraine are both scheduled to play 2022 men’s World Cup play-off matches in March, with world governing body Fifa saying on Thursday it was monitoring the situation in the region.
Russia are due to host Poland in Moscow on 24 March, while Ukraine travel to Scotland on the same day.
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