Ukraine crisis: Uefa to move Champions League final after Russian invasion

Ukraine crisis: Uefa to move Champions League final after Russian invasion
Advertisement of the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom displayed on an advertising board as Ajax's Edson Alvarez runs with the ball during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Benfica and Ajax at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

UEFA will no longer stage this season’s Champions League final in St. Petersburg after Russia attacked Ukraine, The Associated Press has learned.

An extraordinary meeting of the UEFA executive committee will be held on Friday to discuss the geopolitical crisis and when officials are set to confirm taking the May 28 showpiece game out of Russia, a person with knowledge of the process said on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

UEFA confirmed there is a meeting due at 0900 GMT on Friday.

“Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA president has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee …. in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions,” UEFA said in a statement.

The British government and fan groups had been asking UEFA to no longer play the game in the St. Petersburg, where the stadium is sponsored by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

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“On this tragic day, our thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine, our friends, colleagues, members, & their loved ones,” the Fans Supporters Europe group tweeted Thursday. “Given the events unfolding, we expect an imminent announcement from UEFA on the relocation of the Champions League final.”

The Ukrainian Premier League suspended operations on Thursday due to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s decision to impose martial law. The league has been on a two-month winter break and was due to resume on Friday. It did not give any planned date to restart.

The International Paralympic Committee said it was in talks with sports officials in Ukraine and Russia as their teams prepare to head to China for the start of the Paralympic Games next week.

“The IPC is in dialogue with both the Ukrainian and Russian Paralympic Committees ahead of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” the IPC said in an emailed statement. “As a politically neutral organization, the IPC’s focus remains on the upcoming Games rather than the ongoing situation.”

Russia’s name, flag and anthem are already barred from the March 4-13 Paralympics in Beijing over previous doping disputes. Its team is due to compete as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee.



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