Given the state of the world and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it doesn’t appear that Saint Petersburg will host the UEFA Champions League final in May after all.
According to an ESPN report, “UEFA are set to strip Saint Petersburg of the hosting rights” for the title match, set for May 28.
Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg was originally set to host the game in 2021, but that was moved back to this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Krestovsky Stadium also served as host of the 2018 World Cup.
But clearly, the UEFA would be best served to hold the biggest game in European soccer some place else. Russian troops launched an attack on Ukraine on Thursday, and Russian president Vladimir Putin promised that any country that attempts to interfere will face severe “consequences.”
The UEFA released a statement all but confirming it will move the title game out of Russia.
“Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10 a.m. CET [4 a.m. ET] on Friday 25 February, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions,” the statement read.
“Further communication will be made after the meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee.”
As it stands, alternative locations are being considered, and an announcement of where the 2022 title game will be held is expected to come within the next month. London’s Wembley Stadium, a popular venue for soccer, is not being considered, though ESPN reports that Wembley will host the EFL playoffs in late May.
“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” the league added later Thursday.
“As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.
“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow.”