UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an “extraordinary meeting” for Friday to discuss whether Russia should be stripped of the Champions League final due to the escalating situation in Ukraine.
The 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg had been awarded the chance to host Europe’s showpiece event on May 28, but events overnight look likely to force a change of venue.
Russia president Vladimir Putin instructed an attack on Ukraine with explosions heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv while blasts were also reported in the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv.
Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10:00 CET on Friday 25 February, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.
— UEFA (@UEFA) February 24, 2022
European football’s governing body issued a statement on Thursday, which read: “Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.”
In other developments:
- All of Thursday’s European games are expected to go ahead, including Zenit St Petersburg’s Europa League clash with Real Betis in Spain.
- Sky Sports News has also contacted FIFA for comment on whether Russia’s World Cup qualifier against Poland will still go ahead on March 24 at the Dynamo Central Stadium in Moscow. Poland have not asked for the game to be suspended but want clarity on it’s staging
- The Ukrainian league – due to restart this weekend after its winter break – has been suspended after the president announced Martial Law in the country.
- Sky in Italy are reporting Shakhtar Donetsk’s Italian manager Roberto De Zerbi is currently stuck in a Kyiv hotel alongside eight staff members as well as his Brazilian players and their families
- Formula One says it is “closely watching” events in Ukraine but offered no comment on whether September’s Russian Grand Prix will go ahead
Where could Champions League final move to?
After changing the venue for the final for the 2020 and 2021 editions due to the coronavirus pandemic, European football’s governing body could be forced into a further switch but may wait until the latter stages of the competition to see which sides remain in the tournament.
If another all-English final was to occur, like last year’s between Chelsea and Manchester City, there would be pressure to host it in the UK but two major stadiums are already unavailable.
- Explosions heard in major cities including Kyiv and Kharkiv
- Shelling in western city of Lviv reported by Ukrainian emergency service
- Ukraine says Russia has launched a ‘full-scale invasion’ and ‘war of aggression’
- Vladimir Putin ordered a ‘military operation’ in Ukraine’s Donbas region
- Joe Biden says US and its allies will respond amid global condemnation
Wembley is set to host the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on May 28 while the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is primed to host rugby league’s Betfred Challenge Cup Final on the same day.
It may open the door to another venue in England’s capital, West Ham’s London Stadium, which would have space in its summer schedule.
State of shock at Shakhtar as football suspended in Ukraine
Sky Sports News has spoken to two officials at Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk, following the start of Russia’s invasion of the country.
Both have described a state of shock, fear and bewilderment at what is happening, with the Ukrainian Premier League season now suspended.
However, one official has told us he has been training in the use of firearms and intends to stay and fight for his country.
Club staff are mostly based in Kyiv, but others are spread throughout the country, including in Kharkiv, where explosions have been witnessed, and Donetsk – one of the breakaway cities to the east.
The club has set up a Whatsapp group to keep track of staff members whereabouts and safety, and discuss their next steps. Their main priority is the safety and well-being of staff and their families.
They have released a short statement so far via their social media, captioning a picture of the Ukrainian flag with the comment: “We’ll withstand it!”
The Ukrainian league – due to restart this weekend after its winter break – has been suspended after the president announced Martial Law in the country, following invasion.
Donetsk have been playing in Kyiv since fighting broke out in the eastern Donbass region of the country in 2014 – more than 450 miles from their home ground.
No decision yet on Russian Grand Prix
Formula One says it is “closely watching” events in Ukraine but offered no comment on whether September’s Russian Grand Prix will go ahead.
The sport’s bosses released a statement on Thursday after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine following President Vladimir Putin’s order of a “specialised military operation”.
The race in Sochi, which has been on the F1 calendar since 2014, is set to take place on September 25.
An F1 spokesperson said: “Formula One is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September.