What the Russia – Ukraine conflict could mean for Champions League 2022 final

Russia has been awarded hosting rights for this season’s UEFA final once again, but due to political tensions — especially the most recent conflict with Ukraine involving missile attacks — the venue may be changed and the final may be postponed.

Why is it possible that the Champions League final will be moved?

On President Vladimir Putin’s orders, Russia has stationed around 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders in recent months. Tension is mounting up. Clubs will be concerned for their team’s safety and of course UEFA knows that no one comes to the stadium when their is national unrest.

Russia will most likely have no choice but to forfeit the Champions League final as the situation worsens, Goal.com reported. But Alexey Sorokin, St Petersburg local organising committee chief is still confident that the game will go on as scheduled.

“We’ve been dealing with this for the last 15 years – since 2008, when something was apparently going to be stolen from us,” Sorokin told Russian news agency TASS, referring to Russia’s hosting of the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss objects to Sorokin’s opinion.

“Given what Putin is doing, I wouldn’t want to be playing in a football match in St Petersburg,” Truss said in an interview with LBC, a British radio station.

Read also: Russia -Ukraine conflict: What you need to know

UEFA is still undecided, saying it is monitoring the situation but has no intentions to move the venue at this time.

Could UEFA postpone the 2022 Champions League final?

While it’s unclear which other site would be selected, or even whether UEFA will move it at all, any new stadium would have to be a UEFA Category Four stadium. Wembley Stadium is now under consideration, The UK Sun, reported.

The 2021 Champions League final was played at Estadio do Dragao in Porto, while the 2020 final held at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.

If the final for the 2022 edition will be held on May 28, Wembley is unlikely to be able to host due to English Football League play-off finals taking place at the same time.

While it may appear like UEFA is retaliating against Russia for its aggression towards another member association, the move is more likely to be motivated by practical concerns about hosting a final in a country where military activity is underway.

For instance, If UEFA final hold in Russia, spectators and journalists may face significant challenges with logistics during the event.

Similar political disputes that impacted UEFA European finals

The Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, hosted the 2019 Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal.

UEFA was heavily chastised for holding the final in Azerbaijan despite an ongoing war with neighboring Armenia. Depending on whatever teams get it to the final, UEFA may face a similar situation.

Most importantly, Manchester City, the current betting favorite for the competition, has Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko as a regular contributor, and should the team reach a final staged in Russia, the venue may put his participation in the game in jeopardy; according to sporting news.

What does this signify for Russia?

The UEFA Champions League is the world’s most valuable cup competition. Qualifying for the competition from their respective leagues is a financial game-changer for clubs all throughout Europe.

The ticket prices for spectators to the 2021 UEFA Champions League final are as follows: Category 4: €70, Category 3: €180, Category 2: €450, and Category 1: €600, according to UEFA.

The stadium in St. Peterburg held 64,468 spectators for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. By multiplying 70 euros by 64,000, Russia might lose up to €4.51 billion if the European football body changes the venue of the final match.

Given the economic sanctions imposed by international community on Russia, ticket sales alone will have a huge good or negative impact on the Russian economy.

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