UEFA have decided to relocate the Champions League final from Saint Petersburg to Paris amid escalating military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

In an official statement, UEFA has announced its plans to rescind Saint Petersburg from hosting the Champions League in the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the growing geopolitical tension in Europe. It has further announced Stade de France as the new host of the 2021/22 UCL final, located in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris.

UEFA’s decision to relocate the Champions League final comes just a day after Russia announced a full-scale military operation in Ukraine. It was followed by intense pressure from the footballing community, with many even questioning UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin’s close ties with Vladimir Putin.

Even the English Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged UEFA to remove Saint Petersburg as the host for the 2021/22 edition of the Champions League final. “I think it inconceivable that major international football tournaments can take place in Russia after… the invasion of a sovereign country,” Johnson said on Tuesday.

In addition to relocating the final, UEFA also confirmed that both Russians and Ukrainian clubs will have to play their games in neutral venues until further notice. “At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.”

UEFA went on to thank French president Emmanuel Macron for the country’s cooperation while vowing to kickstart efforts to help rescue football players and their families in Ukraine amid escalating tension.

“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to the French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.”

“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,” the statement read.

The decision marks the third time UEFA have had to relocate the destination of the Champions League final over the last three years. Back in 2020, Istanbul was elected to host the 2019/20 UCL final, but it was relocated to Lisbon due to the lengthening pandemic. It was a similar case last season when Porto was given the task to host the final, as the pandemic made it almost impossible for the fans to travel as far as Saint Petersburg.

Meanwhile, in other news, a UK MP has urged the government to sanction Roman Abramovich due to his close ties with Putin, including seizure of his ownership of the Chelsea football club.

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