UEFA call a Friday morning emergency summit to STRIP St Petersburg of the Champions League final


Russia will be stripped of the Champions League final after UEFA convened an emergency meeting for Friday. 

The showpiece event of European club football was scheduled to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg on May 28.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on Thursday morning, means the final will be relocated, with three London venues – Wembley Stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and West Ham’s London Stadium – potential alternatives.

The Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg is set to be stripped of this season’s Champions League final as early as Friday following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The 65,000-capacity Gazprom Arena was due to host this season's showpiece event

The 65,000-capacity Gazprom Arena was due to host this season’s showpiece event

A UEFA statement said: ‘Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.’

UEFA is also under increasing pressure to drop their £33million-a-season sponsorship deal with the majority state-owned Russian energy provider Gazprom, who also sponsor the UEFA Nations League and European Championship finals.

All members of UEFA’s executive committee have been invited to the meeting, including Alexander Dyukov. He is the president of Zenit St Petersburg and the Russian Football Union as well as being the chief executive of Gazprom. 

See also  Joey Barton apologises for comparing Bristol Rovers displays to Holocaust | Joey Barton

Sportsmail reported that West Ham’s owners would be open to staging the Champions League final at their 62,500-capacity London Stadium.

West Ham's London Stadium has emerged as a contender to host the Champions League final

West Ham’s London Stadium has emerged as a contender to host the Champions League final

Wembley and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pictured) are also in the running to host

Wembley and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pictured) are also in the running to host

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had declared it was ‘inconceivable’ that the final could be staged in St Petersburg.

Wembley – which holds 90,000 spectators – is an option but the stadium is set to hold the Championship and League Two play-off finals on the same weekend.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – capacity 62,850 – or West Ham’s home have no such concern.

UEFA did confirm that Zenit St Petersburg’s Europa League match away to Spanish club Real Betis will go ahead on Thursday night.

It came as Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his military forces to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine with attacks coming simultaneously from south, east and north, by land and air.

Missiles and bombs rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions were seen across the country.

Putin is pictured in the early hours of Thursday morning declaring war on Ukraine, in what he termed a 'special military operation'

Putin is pictured in the early hours of Thursday morning declaring war on Ukraine, in what he termed a ‘special military operation’

54590093 10546611 image a 27 1645695342011

The attack has come to Ukraine on all fronts, with bombs and missiles striking targets across the country, ground forces rolling in from Belarus, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, and paratroopers dropping on Kharkiv

See also  Manchester United: Anthony Martial is 'concerned he will be priced out of a move away'

Official figures said 40 Ukrainian troops had been killed in early skirmishes with ‘dozens’ wounded after Putin gave the green light for an early morning invasion on Thursday.

Ukraine claimed that six Russian jets were shot out of the sky over the eastern Donbass region with 50 Russian troops killed but Russia’s air force had taken control of the skies over the country.

Precision-guided missiles slammed into strategic targets throughout the country, including airfields, military bases, ammunition dumps and command posts.

The night sky above Kyiv was lit up as Russia targeted the command headquarters of the Ukrainian military near the city. 

A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia

A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia

An explosion lights up the night sky over Kiev in the early hours of Thursday, as Russia launched an all-out attack on Ukraine from north, south and east with bombs, cruise missiles and rockets raining from the skies

An explosion lights up the night sky over Kiev in the early hours of Thursday, as Russia launched an all-out attack on Ukraine from north, south and east with bombs, cruise missiles and rockets raining from the skies

Highways out of the city were left gridlocked as thousands attempted to flee and air-raid sirens sounded at first light.

Also on the agenda at the UEFA meeting could be what happens with the World Cup qualification play-offs scheduled for March.

Ukraine are set to travel to Glasgow to play Scotland in the one-legged semi-final on March 24 but this match must now be in doubt.

See also  Liverpool 'consider move for Porto star Luis Diaz' to cover for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane during AFCON

Russia, meanwhile, is set to host Poland on the same day in their semi-final.

The winner of that match will face either Sweden or Czech Republic in the final on March 29.

Sweden could face Russia in a World Cup play-off if both nations win their next games

Sweden could face Russia in a World Cup play-off if both nations win their next games

Swedish FA chief Karl-Erik Nilsson (left) says it's 'almost unthinkable' to play a game in Russia

Swedish FA chief Karl-Erik Nilsson (left) says it’s ‘almost unthinkable’ to play a game in Russia

However, the chairman of the Swedish Football Association said a play-off match against Russia is ‘almost unthinkable’ at the moment. 

Karl-Erik Nilsson said: ‘It’s a possible scenario … spontaneously around the feelings we have as we wake up this morning are that it is almost unthinkable that we in a few weeks would play a football match in Russia.’

‘As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia,’ he added. 

Another topic up for discussion will be Russia’s participation in this summer’s Women’s European Championship in England. They have been drawn in Group C alongside Holland, Sweden and Switzerland. 



Source link