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22 Feb, 2022 09:09

Russia responds to claims it could be stripped of Champions League final

The British press has speculated that the UEFA club showpiece could be taken away from Russia
Russia responds to claims it could be stripped of Champions League final

Russian football bosses have dismissed reports that UEFA is considering moving the 2022 Champions League final from St. Petersburg because of tensions with Ukraine.

Sections of the British media speculated on Tuesday that UEFA “could be left with no choice” but to move the European club showpiece, which is due to be held in the northern Russian city on May 28.

“We do not pay attention to various comments from the British media,” St. Petersburg local organizing committee chief Alexey Sorokin told TASS

“We’ve been dealing with this for the last 15 years – since 2008, when something was supposedly going to be taken from us,” the official added, referring to when Russia held the Champions League final in Moscow in 2008.

“UEFA is a large international sports organization, it operates outside a political context. The organizing committee and UEFA haven’t had any discussions on this topic and can’t have any.

“We’re preparing for the final as planned. We’re awaiting the arrival of more than 50,000 foreign fans.”

UEFA itself confirmed in a statement that it was “monitoring the situation,” but added that “at present, there are no plans to change the venue.”

RT

The Champions League final is the biggest match in club football. The 2022 edition is set to be staged at the 68,000-seater Gazprom Arena, also known as the Krestovsky Stadium. 

The venue is home to Russian giants Zenit St. Petersburg and hosted matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2020 UEFA European Championship.

The UK media reports come after Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to formally recognize the breakaway regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), which were formerly part of Ukraine.

Reports in UK tabloid The Daily Star said that UEFA is “monitoring the Ukrainian crisis closely, with a view to drawing up a contingency plan if needed.”  

That step would supposedly come if Russia invades Ukraine, although Moscow has repeatedly denied it has any intention to do so.

According to the UK media, Wembley Stadium in London could conveniently be a “viable” venue to step in and host a rearranged final.

Russia has hosted the Champions League final once previously, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in 2008, when Manchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties.  

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