Paris will stage the 2022 Champions League final after UEFA stripped Saint Petersburg of hosting rights for the showpiece fixture following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Russian troops continued their advance on Ukraine on Friday, which has caused widespread condemnation and sanctions from world leaders.
The decision to move the game to the Stade de France, which last hosted the Champions League final in 2006 when Barcelona beat Arsenal to lift the European Cup for the second time, was confirmed during an extraordinary meeting of UEFA’s Executive Committee on Friday.
The governing body said in a statement, “The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.
“The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021-22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday, 28 May at 9 p.m. CET [3 p.m. ET].
“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.
The Kremlin on Friday said it regretted UEFA’s decision, saying the city would have made a good host for a “festival of football.”
The Krestovsky Stadium was previously due to host the final on May 28 after initially being awarded the game in 2021, which was later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The president of Russia’s football federation (RFU), Alexander Dyukov, said in a statement: “We believe that the decision to move the venue of the Champions League final was dictated by political reasons.
“The R.F.U. has always adhered to the principle of ‘sport is out of politics,’ and thus cannot support this decision.”
The International Olympic Committee has urged sports federations to move or cancel events in Russia and Belarus, describing the invasion of Ukraine as a “breach of the Olympic Truce.”
Despite the prospect of Paris Saint-Germain playing in this season’s Champions League final — PSG travel to Real Madrid for the second leg of a round-of-16 tie next month with a 1-0 advantage from the first game at Parc des Princes — UEFA have selected Paris as host venue due to the French capital’s ability to host a potential influx of 100,000 travelling supporters.
UEFA also announced that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.
The decision will impact Spartak Moscow, who are scheduled to take part in next month’s Europa League round of 16.
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