UEFA moves Champions League final from Saint Petersburg to Paris

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One major player has put their words into action after Russia’s hostile invasion of Ukraine.

UEFA announced Friday that the Champions League final due to be held in Saint Petersburg, Russia will be moved to Paris, France. The originally scheduled date of May 28 remains.

“The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe. 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. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.”

The move by the UEFA Executive Committee also declared that UEFA competitions scheduled to be hosted by Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams will be moved to neutral venues “until further notice.”

UEFA made no statement on one of its major sponsors, the Russian energy giant Gazprom, however.

The biggest club game in European soccer will be held at Stade de France, a suburb in northern Paris, marking the first time since 2006 that the country hosted the final.

Furthermore, FIFA is scheduled to have a World Cup qualifying match in Moscow next month, and this move by UEFA is meant to put pressure on them to relocate that event as well, according to the New York Times.

Earlier this week, the Polish, Czech Republic, and Swedish soccer federations wrote to FIFA, calling for Russia to be banned from hosting World Cup playoff matches.

“The football federations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic categorically condemn Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine. The play-off (SIC) matches for the World Cup in Qatar should not be held in the Russian Federation.”

Alexander Dyukov, president of the Russian soccer federation R.F.U, did not support the UEFA decision and called it a move “dictated by political reasons.”

Dyukov, according to the NYT, is also the chief executive of Gazprom, as well as the president of the Russian soccer club Zenit-St. Petersburg.

According to The Athletic, a group of European politicians called on UEFA to immediately cut ties with Gazprom.

“We appeal to you to convene a special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, to terminate cooperation with Gazprom as UEFA sponsor and to consider sanctions against individual Russian officials who are complicit in the violation of international law.”

UEFA’s sponsorship deal with Gazprom comes in at approximately €40 million annually (roughly $45M) according to SkySports.com, with a three-year renewal of the deal struck in May 2021.

German club Shalke 04 announced on Twitter yesterday that it had removed Gazprom and its logo from the team’s jerseys as a major sponsor, but it wasn’t announced whether sponsorship ties had been severed altogether.

For those interested, you can watch UEFA Champions League matches, including the final on May 28 at 3 pm EST, via the CBS network (CBS, CBS Sports Network, Paramount+), but the official viewing information for the final has not yet been announced.

UEFA Champions League matches are also available in Spanish via Univision (and prende.tv) and TUDN, and matches stream on fuboTV as well, according to The Sporting News.