UEFA are exploring contingency plans to move this season’s Champions League final from Saint Petersburg amid concerns over the possibility of military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The Krestovsky Stadium, which was built as a centrepiece of Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup, is due to stage the 2022 Champions League final on May 28, becoming only the second Russian city to host the biggest game in club football following Moscow’s staging of the 2008 final between Manchester United and Chelsea.
Saint Petersburg had initially been scheduled to host the 2021 final, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to UEFA staging the 2020 and 2021 finals in Portugal, Lisbon and Porto respectively, with original hosts Istanbul and Saint Petersburg being reallocated their hosting of the final in 2023 and 2022.
The prospect of Saint Petersburg, the base of major Champions League sponsor Gazprom, hosting this season’s final is now in doubt, however, due to escalating political tensions between Russia and Western governments.
The UK government and the European Union have served notice in the past 24 hours of a readiness to impose stringent sanctions on Russia following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s declaration on Monday that his country now recognise the independence of Ukrainian regions Donetsk and Luhansk.
While sources have told ESPN that UEFA has made no decision on Saint Petersburg’s staging of the final, the political situation is being closely monitored and potential alternative options are being assessed.
With four English clubs — Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and holders Chelsea — still in the competition, the prospect of a third all-Premier League final in four years has raised the possibility of Wembley stepping in as a host venue, although the home of English football is already pencilled in for the 2024 final