European football governing body, UEFA, has moved this year’s Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris in France, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, leaving them with little choice but to declare a nationwide state of emergency.
The Champions League final was scheduled to take place at the 68,000-capacity St. Petersburg stadium on May 28, but will now be held at the Stade de France in Paris.
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This makes it the second time the Champions League final will take place in Paris – with the first coming 16 years ago when Barcelona beat Arsenal.
European football chiefs had been preparing the ground for a decision over the venue for the Champions League final, with London among one of the alternatives.
But the scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced UEFA to change venue, recognising the implication of staging it in Russia.
UEFA chiefs held intensive talks on Friday and concluded that it had to be moved.
And that will also ramp up the heat on FIFA to act and kick Russia out of their World Cup play-off with Poland, due to be played in Moscow on March 24.
That could see UEFA being urged to ban all Russian club sides.
But UEFA is also now under pressure to rip up its Champions League sponsorship contract with Gazprom.
The crisis that is enveloping Europe now means sport – and football in particular – is a key actor in the scenario.
Germany and Japan were both banned from entering qualification for the 1950 World Cup in the aftermath of World War Two.
And South Africa was kicked out of FIFA in 1961, spending 35 years in the wilderness as the game sanctioned the Apartheid regime.
European football’s governing body stated on Thursday, which read: “UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine.