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22nd Feb 2022

Calls grow for UEFA to strip Russia of Champions League final after Ukraine invasion

Simon Lloyd

This season’s Champions League final is due to take place in St Petersburg

UEFA is facing growing calls to move this season’s Champions League final from St Petersburg after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine overnight.

Footage released in the early hours of Tuesday morning showed Russian military vehicles crossing the border into two rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine, following weeks of simmering tensions in the region.

Russia has insisted the troops are on “peacekeeping” duties, claims which have been unanimously dismissed by the west. Several countries have vowed to place immediate sanctions on Russia in response to the move, with pressure mounting on UEFA to do the same in relation to the Champions League final.

European club football’s showpiece match is scheduled to be played at the Gazprom Arena on May 28. Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, is amongst the first to voice his concerns over the game being played on Russian soil.

“It’s something that must be considered given this naked act of aggression,” Knight told Telegraph Sport. “To host such a landmark event as the Russian tanks roll sends out all the wrong messages.”

UEFA were monitoring the situation closely on Tuesday. While there are said to be no plans in place to move the game at present, it seems likely there will at least be a discussion amongst senior figures at the governing body in the coming days as the situation in Ukraine intensifies.

Wembley would be a viable alternative should UEFA decide to move the game, having held the 2011 and 2013 Champions League finals. Istanbul, too, would be an option, after the final was taken away from the Turkish city and moved to Porto last year due to Covid.

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