Sequel to the Ukraine-Russia situation, Uefa is almost set to move this season’s Champions League final away from St Petersburg.
Russia has dispatched troops to two rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion.
As a result of the move, other countries, notably the United Kingdom, have imposed sanctions on Russia.
In light of this, Uefa is widely believed to be unlikely to attempt to host the event in Russia.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “no hope of staging football events in a Russia that invades sovereign countries.”
Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, went on to say that she had “severe concerns” about athletic events planned in Russia, such as the Champions League final, which she would raise with the relevant regulatory organizations.
“We will not allow [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin to use global events to legitimize his illegal invasion of Ukraine,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Tracey Crouch, a former UK sports minister, told BBC Sport that Uefa should change the final “immediately.”
The governing body of European football is reviewing the situation before making a decision, but for the third year in a row, it will be looking for a replacement venue on short notice. Because of Covid-19-related concerns, the previous two Champions League finals were held in Portugal.
According to BBC Sport, the game will still take place on Saturday, May 28.
This will certainly rule Wembley out as a venue, given the League Two and Championship play-off finals are scheduled for that weekend.
Uefa is in talks with Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Lisbon about their Youth League last-16 match, which is set to take place on March 2 in Kiev.
Other Uefa competition matches may need to be rescheduled. There are no Ukrainian teams remaining in any other European competition this season, although Zenit St Petersburg of Russia is still in the Europa League and will face Real Betis in the second leg of their play-off round tie on Thursday in Spain. Zenit was defeated 3-2 at home in the first leg.
On the international stage, Russia will face Poland in a World Cup play-off on March 24 and, if they win, will face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.
Ukraine is in the World Cup play-offs as well, and will go to Scotland, Wales, or Austria in order to qualify for the tournament in Qatar.
Tensions in the region have risen even higher this week, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering troops into two rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine after the latter was recognized as an independent state.
Fears of an invasion have grown in recent months, according to US estimates, as Russia has massed roughly 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.
“Given the United Kingdom’s and Europe’s condemnation of Russian actions in Ukraine, Uefa should move the Champions League final from the Gazprom stadium immediately,” Crouch continued.
“The prohibition on politicians and officials attending the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup was a gentle message to President Putin that made no effect – thus Uefa needs to adopt a much tougher stance, not least to safeguard the safety of traveling fans.”
Last summer’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament featured a number of matches in St Petersburg.
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