Champions League final 'to be moved from St Petersburg' as Russia hit with sanctions

22 February 2022, 16:57 | Updated: 22 February 2022, 16:59

It is thought Russia will lose the right to host the Champions League final
It is thought Russia will lose the right to host the Champions League final. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Russia is likely to be stripped of hosting this year's Champions League final amid fears the country will invade Ukraine.

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The match was set to take place in St Petersburg in May however it is thought Uefa are unlikely to allow it to go ahead if Russian aggression continues.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas, eastern Ukraine, after recognising them as independent states.

READ MORE: Putin gets green light to use force outside Russia to pave way for mass Ukraine attack

READ MORE: Banned from Britain: The three Putin cronies slapped with Boris's sanctions

Uefa said in a statement it was "constantly and closely monitoring the situation and any decision would be made in due course if necessary".

As the West imposes a barrage of sanctions on Russia, Boris Johnson earlier told MPs there is "no chance" of holding football tournaments in a country that "invades sovereign countries".

London mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC "London stands ready to host the Champions League final".

He added: "Hosting the Champions League final is a privilege and I think the impression we will give if Uefa continues to have the final in St Petersburg is rewarding this sort of aggressive action from Putin."

English clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool remain in the competition.

Other sporting events, including September’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, are also under threat.

Mr Johnson, speaking after announcing new UK sanctions on Russian banks and wealthy individuals, told the House of Commons Mr Putin "is going to end up with a Russia that is poorer as a result of the sanctions that the world will implement".

"A Russia that is more isolated, a Russia that has pariah status - no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries," he added.

"A Russia that is engaged in a bloody and debilitating conflict with a fellow Slav country. What an appalling result for President Putin.

"I hope that he steps back from the brink and does not conduct a full invasion."

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Mr Putin should not be allowed to "exploit" events like the Champions League final to legitimise the invasion of Ukraine.

"I have serious concerns about the sporting events due to be held in Russia, such as the Champions League final, and will discuss with the relevant governing bodies," she said.

"We won't allow President Putin to exploit events on the world stage to legitimise his illegal invasion of Ukraine."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey later asked Mr Johnson in the Commons to confirm if he would "push for this year's Champions League final to be moved from St Petersburg".

Mr Johnson, in his reply, said: "I think it inconceivable that major international football tournaments can take place in Russia after, as I say, the invasion of a sovereign country."