The Russia and Ukraine crisis might force the European football governing body, UEFA, to move the venue of the UEFA Champions League final away from Russia. The football governing body will meet on Friday, February 25, to confirm a change of the match venue.
Currently, the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League final is scheduled to take place at the 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg, Russia on May 28, 2022.
But after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-blown invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning, February 24, 2022, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin had to call for an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee to confirm the decision to change the match venue.
Earlier today, Ukrainian authorities confirmed that the Russian president ordered military attacks on some major cities in Ukraine. Reports claimed that Russian missiles landed in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and two other cities in Ukraine Odessa and Kharkiv.
Though the number of casualties in the attacks has not been confirmed, there are reports that scores of people had died while many have sustained different degrees of injury.
Hence, the attacks are seen as enough reason to move the UEFA Champions League final away from Russia. If the UEFA executive committee confirms the change in the match venue, that will make it the second successive year that the city of St Petersburg has missed the opportunity of hosting the Champions League final.
A statement UEFA shared via Twitter read: “Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.”
Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10:00 CET on Friday 25 February, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.— UEFA (@UEFA) February 24, 2022
Recall that ahead of the 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League final which was scheduled to hold in St Petersburg, UEFA had to agree to change the match venue due to a high number of coronavirus infections in the country then.
UEFA moved the Champions League final from St Petersburg to Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal.
As it stands, it is until the end of the meeting on Friday that the new venue for the UEFA Champions League final would be known if the committee agrees to change the match venue over the raging Russia and Ukraine crisis.
What is the impact of the Russia and Ukraine crisis on football so far?
Due to the ongoing Russia and Ukraine crisis, it is no longer certain that St Petersburg will host the UEFA Champions League final as earlier scheduled.
However, the crisis is not expected to affect the Europa League match between Zenit St Petersburg and Real Betis scheduled to take place in Spain later today, February 24.
On the other hand, due to the Russia and Ukraine crisis, it is not clear whether Russia’s World Cup qualifier against Poland will still go ahead on March 24 at the Dynamo Central Stadium in Moscow as planned.
Recently, the football authority in Ukraine has had to suspend the Ukrainian league which ought to restart this weekend after its winter break. The league had to be suspended after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Martial Law in the country.