UEFA, no escape: the decision to move to the League Final

Photo source: Getty Images / BBC.

Reading time: 2 minutes

The European Football Forum (UEFA) will give up St. Petersburg as the venue for the Champions League Final after Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday morning, according to sources quoted by the Associated Press.

An extraordinary meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee will take place on Friday morning to discuss the geopolitical crisis and its effects on European football. In this meeting, the decision to move the Champions League Final is expected to be made official. The legendary Wembley in London has the best chance of being the host stadium.

“UEFA shares the international community’s major concern over security in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine. We remain in solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and we are ready to reach out to the Ukrainian people, “the European body said in a statement.

As Russia’s threats to Ukraine escalated over the course of the week, the British government and several groups of supporters demanded that the final be stopped in St. Petersburg, where the stadium is sponsored by Russian state energy giant Gazprom. whose name it bears (Gazprom Arena).

The company is also the main sponsor of the German Schalke 04 team in the second division of German football, but the club announced on Thursday that the Gazprom logo has been removed from the shirts.

At the same time, a Gazprom CEO left the Gelsenkirchen Club’s Supervisory Board after being targeted by US sanctions. This is Matthias Warnig, CEO of the project company that handled the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Gazprom has been the team’s sponsor since 2006. Meanwhile, the club’s most important achievement was qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals in 2011.

This week, the German newspaper Bild began covering the Gazprom logos on Schalke’s T-shirts with another logo, which reads “Freedom for Ukraine”, as a form of protest against Russia’s increasingly aggressive military behavior in relation to Ukraine.

As for UEFA, Gazprom’s sponsorship of the continental forum is also being considered.

Until Thursday, UEFA’s management refused to comment on the move to the Champions League Final, trying to adopt a language as neutral as possible.

More details on the links between UEFA and Russia, through Gazprom, here.