UEFA moves Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris
Venue change comes after Russian military operation in Ukraine, game to be played on May 28 as scheduled.
UEFA on Friday moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris in the wake of Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.
"The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men's Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET," the European football's governing body said in a statement.
UEFA on Friday held an extraordinary meeting a day after Russia launched an attack against Ukraine.
This year's final was due to take place at the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg before relocation.
The UEFA Executive Committee also ruled that both Russian and Ukrainian clubs and their national teams each in the UEFA competitions will play their home games in neutral stadiums.
It also thanked French President Emmanuel Macron "for his personal support and commitment" to host the 2022 final.
France's national stadium Stade de France, located in the northern commune of Saint-Denis, has a capacity of some 80,000 spectators.
Built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the stadium hosted the 2000 and 2006 Champions League finals, and the UEFA EURO 2016.
The February 2014 "Maidan revolution" in Ukraine led to former President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and a pro-Western government coming to power.
That was followed by Russia illegally annexing the Crimea region and separatists declaring independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations.
As clashes erupted between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian army, the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements were signed in Moscow after the intervention of Western powers.
The conflict, however, simmered for years with persistent cease-fire violations. As of February 2022, some 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Tensions started escalating late last year when Ukraine, the US and its allies accused Russia of amassing tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine.
They claimed Russia was preparing to invade its western neighbor, allegations consistently rejected by Moscow.
Defying threats of sanctions by the West, Moscow officially recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states earlier this week, followed by the start of a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday.
Putin said the operation aims to protect people "subjected to genocide" by Kyiv and to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine, while calling on the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms.
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