CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL MOVED TO PARIS

 

The 2022 Champions League final will be played in Paris after Russia was stripped of the match following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

The final of Europe’s most prestigious club competition was due to be played in St Petersburg on 28 May.

Uefa said the match would not be held at the Gazprom Arena and would move to the Stade de France in Paris instead.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, due to take place in Sochi in September, has been cancelled.

F1 says it is “impossible” to hold the event in “the current circumstances”.

International sports federations should move or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus, says the International Olympic Committee.

Uefa thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for “his personal support and commitment” to have the game moved to France at “a time of unparalleled crisis”.

It added: “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.”

It is the third year running the venue of the Champions League final has been moved.

In 2020, it was switched from Istanbul to Lisbon because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Turkish city was set to host the game last year instead but it was again moved to Portugal – this time, Porto – because of the pandemic.

The decision to strip St Petersburg of the final has been criticised by Russian sporting and political officials.

Russian Football Union (RFU) president Alexander Dyukov, who serves on the Uefa executive committee and is the chief executive of Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Neft, said he “could not support” the move.

“We believe the decision was dictated by political reasons. The RFU has always adhered to the principle of ‘sport is out of politics’,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added: “It’s a shame that such a decision has been made. St Petersburg could have provided all favourable conditions to hold this festival of soccer.”

However, UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries welcomed “decisive action” by Uefa.

“Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimise its unprovoked, premeditated and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state,” said Conservative MP Dorries.

Labour’s Lucy Powell, the shadow culture secretary, agreed it was a “welcome step”.

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick, whose side are in the Champions League last 16, said it was “inevitable” and the “right” decision.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who led the club owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to last season’s Champions League title, agreed.

“Sadly I think it’s the worst reason to change location. This is not good news but it had to happen. There are things more important (than football),” said the German.

While expressing his sorrow at the situation, Paris St-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino said the final being held in the French capital would provide “extra motivation” in the club’s bid to become European champions for the first time.

BBC

 

 

 

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