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Russia Expresses 'Regret' After UEFA Moves The Champions League Final From St Petersburg

Rory O'Callaghan

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Russia Expresses 'Regret' After UEFA Moves The Champions League Final From St Petersburg

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

Russia says it regrets UEFA's decision to strip the country of its right to host this season's Champions League final.

European club football’s showpiece event was originally due to be held at the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg on May 28.

But UEFA has decided to move the final to the Stade de France in Paris in the wake of Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg was due to host the final (Image: PA)
The Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg was due to host the final (Image: PA)

"It's a pity, of course, that such a decision was made. But [the decision] has been made, so it is accepted,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

When asked whether he considered the decision to be politically motivated, Peskov added: "No, I didn't say that. I just expressed regret."

UEFA had come under huge pressure to move the final, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson among those calling for Russia to be prevented from hosting the event.

On Friday, UEFA confirmed the final would be moved to Paris, while also announcing that Russian and Ukrainian club and national sides would be required to play at neutral venues in European competition this season.

A UEFA statement read: "The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men's Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

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“The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.

"UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to 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.

"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.

"The UEFA Executive Committee further determined to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required, to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary."

The Stade de France in Paris will now host this season's final (Image: PA)
The Stade de France in Paris will now host this season's final (Image: PA)

UEFA’s announcement came on the same day that Formula One cancelled this season’s Russian Grand Prix.

The race was due to be held in Sochi on September 25 but has now been removed from the 2022 calendar following protests from Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

A Formula One statement read: “The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together.

“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.

“On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”

Topics: Ukraine, Russia, Football, Champions League, UEFA

Rory O'Callaghan
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