UEFA is under considerable pressure to move this season’s Champions League final from Saint Petersburg after Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
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The showpiece event of European football is scheduled to take place at Gazprom Arena in Saint PetersburgRussia on May 28.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin orders the army to carry out “peacekeeping” tasks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine on Monday evening.
Russian tanks, armored vehicles and trucks were seen crossing the Ukrainian border in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions are now controlled by pro-Russian rebels, and Putin has recognized them as “independent states”.
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But many countries – including Britain – have recognized Putin’s orders as an invasion and an act of aggression rather than peace.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed Putin had violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and flouted international law, promising a “series” of sanctions.
Ukraine’s allies have also promised to punish Russia with economic sanctions, and the US has dismissed Putin’s “peacekeeping” claims as “nonsense”.
Despite Russia’s actions, UEFA has yet to revoke their Champions League final.
“UEFA is continuously and closely monitoring the situation,” a statement confirmed. “Currently, there are no plans to change locations.”
UEFA will continue to be under great pressure to change the venue of the Champions League final if the risk of war between Russia and Ukraine does not lessen.
Based on TimeUEFA is currently discussing whether to postpone the event.
Wembley, which is set to host the final in May 2024, is being touted as a potential alternative site. London Stadium previously hosted the 2011 and 2013 finals.
UEFA was forced to postpone the last two Champions League finals due to Covid.
The 2020 final was moved from Istanbul to Lisbon, while last season’s showcase event was moved from Saint Petersburg to Porto.
UEFA is keen not to postpone the successful third year Champions League final but may be left with no other choice if Russia’s aggression continues.
The final in Saint Petersburg currently raises serious security and ethical concerns.
In the event of a Russo-Ukrainian war, governments are unlikely to allow individuals – including players – to visit Saint Petersburg. A boycott is also possible.
“Putin really wants to do a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the passage, the subjugation of an independent, sovereign European nation,” Johnson said on Tuesday.
“And I thought, let’s be absolutely clear, that would be absolutely catastrophic.
“If Vladimir Putin continues to follow the violence, aggression, full-scale invasion, siege of Kyiv, which he seems to be proposing to do, take the Ukrainian capital, then what matters is that effort, that the conquest of another European country, will not succeed and Putin will fail.”
Of the first set of sanctions, Johnson added: “They’re going to hit Russia very hard and there’s a lot more that we would do in the event of an invasion.”