UEFA Monitors Ukraine Crisis Amid Calls to Pull Soccer Final Out of Russia

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is considering backup locations that could host this year’s Champions League final amid the increasing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The European soccer final was set to take place on May 28 in St. Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium. Unnamed sources told ESPN that while no decision has been made yet, the political situation in the country is being monitored and alternative locations are being reviewed. Should the match be moved, it would be another economic consequence for Russia, as severe sanctions from the United States and European countries are expected to follow an attack on Ukraine.

“UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation and any decision would be made in due course if necessary,” the UEFA said in a statement sent to Newsweek, adding it would make no further comment at this time.

The move comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’ independence from Ukraine. Newsweek previously reported that Putin called on Russia’s lawmakers to work on measures that would provide military support to the two so-called people’s republics, causing concern for Ukraine and its allies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the idea that the Champions League final could still take place in Russia “inconceivable,” Reuters reported. As a result, U.K. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch told Eurosport the UEFA should “immediately” move the match elsewhere.

“The ban on politicians and officials traveling to the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup was a soft message to President Putin which made no significant difference,” she said. “So UEFA [needs] to take a much stronger stance, not least to ensure the safety of traveling fans.”

Update 02/22/22, 12:36 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and a statement from the UEFA.

The Union of European Football Associations is looking for other locations to host the Champions League final should the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalate. Above, Claudinho of Zenit St. Petersburg and Reece James of Chelsea FC during the UEFA Champions League group H match on December 8, 2021, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

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