Russia stripped off hosting Champions League final

As part of the sanctions imposed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UEFA has announced that Russia was stripped of the Champions League final in St. Petersburg. It will now be moved to the Stade de France in Paris to be played on the original date of May 28. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a decision to send troops into Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. 

“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic 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,” UEFA said in a statement. The showpiece was supposed to be played at the Krestovsky Arena, the biggest sporting event in the country since the 2018 World Cup.

“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,” the statement added. UEFA also said that Russian and Ukrainian sides competing in UEFA competitions will have to play home matches at neutral venues.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has earlier suggested that Russia should be stripped of hosting the final. Johnson warned of “a Russia that is more isolated. A Russia that has pariah status … no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries.” Four English sides – Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United – are in the last 16 of the competition.

It is learnt that the Champions League final has been moved in the last two seasons due to the pandemic. During the earlier draws, UEFA has been keeping Ukrainian and Russian teams separated to prevent them from playing each other. Meanwhile, Russia is also scheduled to host Poland in a World Cup playoff on 24 March, while Ukraine face Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Formula One also announced that the Russian Grand Prix, originally scheduled to take place in Sochi on September 23-25, will be postponed. “We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution, bringing nations together,” F1 said in a statement.

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