UEFA to move Champions League final after Russian invasion
BREAKING: The Stade de France in Paris replaces St. Petersburg as host of the Champions League final, according to The Associated Press.
UEFA Executive Committee has 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.”
European lawmakers have requested UEFA to move this season’s Champions League final away from Russia and to stop considering Russian cities for international events.
The Champions League final was set to be played at the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg on the 28 May.
The decision will be made at Friday’s emergency meeting of European football’s governing body.
UEFA have meanwhile confirmed that all matches scheduled to take place in the Europa League and Europa Conference League on Thursday night will proceed as scheduled. Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg travel to play Real Betis to play their second-leg in the Europa league tonight.
European lawmakers have also called on UEFA to sever ties with Russian state energy company Gazprom, who sponsors the Champions League.
German football club Schalke 04 tweeted on Thursday it was removing the logo of Gazprom from its shirts due to the recent developments. It will be replaced by lettering reading Schalke 04 instead.
World football’s governing body FIFA also plans to meet on Thursday with Russia and Ukraine both scheduled to play in World Cup play-off qualifying matches in March. Russia are due to play Poland in Moscow on 24 March, while Scotland host Ukraine on the same day.
Sweden who are also in the play-offs and would meet Russia for a place at the World Cup finals should they both win. Karl-Erik Nilsson, the chairman of the Swedish Football Association told Reuters a match in Russia was “almost unthinkable” at the moment.
The Ukrainian Premier League that was meant to be restarting on Friday after a winter break has been paused for a minimum of 30 days after the military invasion.
Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Thursday.