Ukraine crisis: Uefa likely to move Champions League final from St Petersburg in Russia

Champions League trophy

Uefa is almost certain to switch this season’s Champions League final away from St Petersburg amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Several countries, including the UK, are expected to introduce sanctions against Russia in response to the move.

And against that backdrop, Uefa is viewed as being highly unlikely to attempt to host the game in Russia.

Former UK sports minister Tracey Crouch has told BBC Sport that Uefa should move the final “immediately”.

European football’s governing body is assessing the whole situation before making a decision on the matter but it is set to be looking for a new venue at short notice for the third year running. The past two Champions League finals were played in Portugal because of Covid-19 related issues.

BBC Sport understands the game will still be played on Saturday, 28 May, which is likely to rule Wembley out as a host as the League Two and Championship play-off finals are set to be played at the stadium over that weekend.

Uefa is in talks with Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Lisbon over their Youth League last-16 tie which is scheduled to be played in the Ukraine capital on 2 March.

Other Uefa competition fixtures may yet need to be moved. There are no teams from Ukraine left in any other European competition this season but Russian club Zenit St Petersburg are still in the Europa League and are set to play the second leg of their play-off round tie with Real Betis in Spain on Thursday. Zenit lost the home leg 3-2.

At international level, Russia are scheduled to host Poland in a World Cup play-off on 24 March and – if they win – would face Sweden or Czech Republic on 29 March.

Ukraine are also in the World Cup play-offs, and visit Scotland and then either Wales or Austria in their bid to qualify for the tournament in Qatar.

Tensions in the region have escalated further this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering troops into two rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine, after recognising them as independent states.

Fears over an invasion have been rising in recent months, as Russia has massed some 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, according to US estimates.

“Given the British and European condemnation of Russian action in Ukraine, Uefa should immediately move the Champions League final from the Gazprom stadium,” added Crouch.

“The ban on politicians and officials travelling to the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup was a soft message to President Putin which made no significant difference – so Uefa need to take a much stronger stance not least to ensure the safety of travelling fans.”

St Petersburg was used as a venue for a number of matches at last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

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