Istanbul might no longer host UEFA Champions League final

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The city of Istanbul in Turkey might no longer host the final of the UEFA Champions League due to coronavirus restriction.

The country had shut down its airwaves against foreigners for weeks to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The lockdown will be relaxed on May 17 this year.

That ought to be good news ahead of the UEFA Champions League final that has been scheduled to take place in the country’s major city. However, the government of the United Kingdom has placed the country on the list of countries people from the UK must not visit due to the high rate of coronavirus cases in Turkey.

Since the news broke about a week ago that Turkey has been listed as a red spot by the UK government, the European football governing body, UEFA, has been unsettled due to the Champions League final that has been planned to hold in Istanbul.

UEFA is worried because Istanbul is supposed to host two of the raving clubs from the UK – Manchester City and Chelsea in the final of the competition on May 29. Based on this, some football fans from the UK are expected to travel to Istanbul to watch the game.

However, with the UK’s restriction against people who intend to travel to Turkey, UEFA’s dream of having about 8 thousand fans of the two finalists – Chelsea and Manchester City, at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul for the game might not actualize.

Istanbul might no longer host UEFA Champions League final
Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul where the UEFA Champions League is scheduled to hold on May 29.

People who travel to Countries on UK’s red list must quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days. This will be difficult to carry out since UEFA is willing to allow 4 thousand fans of Chelsea and four thousand fans of Manchester City to get tickets for the final of the competition.

Hence, UEFA has reportedly started taking steps to move the venue of the UEFA Champions League final from Istanbul to Wembley Stadium in London.

There are reports that the UK government has given UEFA the go-ahead to use Villa Park for the Champions League final, but UEFA does not want to use the venue because it is not up to the required standard.

At the time of publishing this report, representatives of UEFA are still having a series of meetings with representatives of the UK government in conjunction with the English FA. The meeting aims to make the Wembley Stadium the new venue for the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea instead of Istanbul.

Transport secretary in the UK, Grant Shapps said: “I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list. This will have several ramifications. First of all, it does mean with regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

“The FA are in discussions with UEFA on this. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA.

“Of course, the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well placed to do it.

“We are very open to it but it is, in the end, a decision for UEFA to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to what they have to say.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the English FA would have to postpone three domestic football matches to give room for the UEFA Champions League final to be held at the Wembley Stadium.