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25 Feb, 2022 10:59

Russian officials react to UEFA decision to move Champions League final

The head of the Russian Football Union (RFU) has responded after UEFA moved its club showpiece from St. Petersburg
Russian officials react to UEFA decision to move Champions League final

The president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) says the decision to move the UEFA Champions League final from St. Petersburg has been “dictated by politics.”

Following an emergency meeting, UEFA announced on Friday that the match due to be held in the northern Russian city in May will instead be played at the Stade de France in Paris, due to the ongoing military hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.

“We believe that the decision to move the venue of the Champions League final was dictated by political reasons. The RFU has always adhered to the principle of ‘sport is outside politics’, and thus cannot support this decision,” said RFU president Alexander Dyukov in a statement on the organization’s website.

“The RFU also does not support the decision to transfer any matches involving Russian teams to neutral territory as violating the sports principle and infringing on the interests of players, coaches and fans.

“We are always ready to provide all the necessary guarantees for holding international football matches in Russia with a high level of organization and security.”

The Kremlin also reacted with disappointment to the decision by UEFA.

“It is a shame, of course, that such a decision was made,” said spokesman Dmitry Peskov in comments shared by Match TV.

“St. Petersburg would have provided the best possible conditions, favorable and comfortable conditions for holding this football celebration, but [the decision] has been taken.”

The local organizing committee in St. Petersburg said it “regretted” the step by UEFA.

“Russia has proven to be an impeccable organizer of major international sporting events and a reliable partner for world federations,” it said.

“During several years of preparations for the Champions League Final, we have fulfilled all the requirements and wishes of UEFA.”

The showpiece was due to be held on May 28 at the 68,000-seater Gazprom Arena in Russia’s former imperial capital.

The venue also hosted matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2020 UEFA European Championship.

In its statement on Friday, UEFA also ordered that all home matches involving Russian and Ukrainian teams in its competitions must be played at neutral venues.