Paris to host UEFA Champions League final stripped from Saint Petersburg

AFP , Friday 25 Feb 2022

Paris will host this season's Champions League final after Saint Petersburg was stripped of the match due to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, UEFA announced on Friday.

General view of the Saint Petersburg Stadium
File Photo: General view of the Saint Petersburg Stadium prior to the Euro 2020 soccer championship quarterfinal match between Switzerland and Spain in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, July 2, 2021. AP

The showpiece occasion of the European club season will be played at the Stade de France on Saturday, May 28, European football's governing body said after holding an emergency meeting in response to the crisis.

"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," a statement said.

"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 final was supposed to be played at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, which already hosted several matches at last year's European Championship and at the 2018 World Cup held in Russia.

UEFA made no reference to its relationship with Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant that is a key sponsor of European football's governing body.

However, UEFA did announce that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in international competitions must play home matches at neutral venues "until further notice".

FIFA may now move to force Russia to play their World Cup qualifying play-off against Poland on March 24 on neutral ground.

Spartak Moscow, in the Europa League, are the only club from either Russia or Ukraine still involved in European competition this season.

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