UEFA Champions League St Petersburg RussiaGetty/Goal composite

Champions League final 2021-22: Why venue has changed after Russia invasion of Ukraine & where UEFA showpiece will be played instead

What does the Russian invasion of Ukraine mean for the 2021-22 Champions League final? Well, it will no longer be staged in Saint Petersburg as UEFA has announced a change in venue to Stade de France in Paris.

The last time Russia staged the European showpiece was back in 2008, when Manchester United lifted the trophy following a penalty shootout victory at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. 

The transcontinental country was given hosting rights again for this season's final, but political tension which has resulted in military action has changed the landscape. GOAL is here to bring you everything you need to know.

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Where is the Champions League 2021-22 final being staged?

The 2021-22 Champions League final was originally set to be staged at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, which is the home ground of Russian giants Zenit. However, that situation has changed following an annoucement from UEFA on February 25 and the game will now be held at Stade de France in Paris.

When is the Champions League 2021-22 final?

The 2022 Champions League final is scheduled to take place on May 28, 2022.

Why has the Champions League final venue been changed?

It was suggested that Russia may not be allowed to stage the Champions League final from the moment that president Vladimir Putin gave the green light for an invasion of Ukraine.

According to U.S estimates, Russia had stationed 150,000 troops along Ukraine's borders over the last few months.

The situation escalated on February 22 as Putin announced the recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states and moved soldiers into the two rebel-held regions.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the following morning that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had begun.

"We are waking up to a very dark day in Europe," Javid said on Sky News. "We’ve seen that he’s [Putin] recognised these breakaway eastern regions in Ukraine and we can already tell he’s sent in tanks and troops, so I think from that you can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun.”

The British media reported that Russia would have no choice but to give up the Champions League final as the situation continues to develop, but St Petersburg local organising committee chief Alexey Sorokin initially insisted that the game would go ahead as planned.

“We do not pay attention to various comments from the British media,” Sorokin told TASS

“We’ve been dealing with this for the last 15 years – since 2008, when something was supposedly going to be taken from us,” the official added, referring to when Russia held the Champions League final in Moscow in 2008.

“UEFA is a large international sports organisation, it operates outside a political context. The organising committee and UEFA haven’t had any discussions on this topic and can’t have any.

“We’re preparing for the final as planned. We’re awaiting the arrival of more than 50,000 foreign fans.”

What has UEFA said about the Champions League final?

UEFA held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation, with a statement from European football's governing body reading: "The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.

"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.

"UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis. Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.

"At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.

"The UEFA Executive Committee further determined to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required, to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary."

Elsewhere, The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, had called for UEFA to act in light of Putin's latest move.

DCMS select committee chairman, Julian Knight, told the Telegraph: "It’s something that must be considered given this naked act of aggression.

"To host such a landmark event as the Russian tanks roll sends out all the wrong messages."

When asked on British radio station LBC if the Champions League final should go ahead in St Petersburg, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss replied: "No."

She added: "If I was on an English team [that reached the Champions League final], I would boycott it. I would, personally, not want to be playing in a football match in St Petersburg given what Putin is doing."

What has the EU parliament said?

European lawmakers asked UEFA not only to strip Russia of the final, but also to sever ties with Russian state energy company Gazprom, which sponsors the Champions League.

A letter to UEFA from EU politicians reads: “We call on you to stop considering Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities as venues for international football competitions and to choose as a first and very urgent step an alternative venue for the Champions League final on May 28, 2022.

“In addition, we appeal to you to convene a special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, to terminate cooperation with Gazprom as UEFA sponsor and to consider sanctions against individual Russian officials who are complicit in the violation of international law.”

Has the Champions Leaue final been moved before?

Portugal was used as a host nation in 2020 and 2021 due to public health difficulties arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. UEFA relocated the 2021 Champions League final to Estadio do Dragao in Porto, while the 2020 final was held in Estadio da Luz, Lisbon.

Wembley in London and Villa Park in Birmingham were suggested as alternative venues for the 2021 Champions League final when two English teams contested the trophy and there are plenty of other stadiums capable of hosting such an event.

Wembley did not come into consideration this time around as, on the May 28 date, English Football League play-off finals will be taking place around the same time.

Paris has been given the nod as a result, with Stade de France set to stage a Champions League final for the first time since 2006 - when Barcelona edged out Arsenal 2-1.

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