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Champions League Final: Politicians put pressure on UEFA

The dramatic escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has now also brought sport into focus. Politicians across Europe are already calling for the Champions League final to be postponed. But UEFA is hesitant.

The day after Russia’s recognition of the eastern Ukrainian separatist regions, there were already calls for the Champions League final (28 May) to be moved from the Russian metropolis of St. Petersburg.

UEFA should withdraw the Champions League final from Russia and end its cooperation with main sponsor Gazprom. This was demanded by members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg in an open letter to UEFA and its president Aleksander Ceferin published on Tuesday. The times of just continuously monitoring the situation are over, they said. “UEFA must act now,” the letter demands.

Clear message from Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also called on UEFA to postpone the final. “No chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign states,” Johnson told parliament in London on Tuesday. “At this critical moment it is absolutely crucial that President (Vladimir) Putin understands that what he is doing is a disaster for Russia.” Foreign Affairs Minister Tom Tugendhat also struck sharp tones. “This is a shameful decision. UEFA should not give cover to a violent dictatorship,” the conservative politician tweeted about holding on to St. Petersburg.

UEFA hesitates and “watches “

Until then, however, the status quo still prevailed at UEFA: there were currently no plans to change the venue. “UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation. If necessary, a decision will be taken in due course,” UEFA simply announced early on Tuesday evening in response to an SID enquiry.

Gazprom is a close partner

On top of that, the question of sponsor Gazprom is likely to arise. The Russian energy company has been a close partner of the continental association for years and is also prominently placed in the stadiums at European championships. This could also be the case at the next European Championship in Germany in the summer of 2024. The second-division club FC Schalke 04, sponsored by Gazprom, is following the political situation in Eastern Europe “with great concern”. The club said in a statement issued by the club’s management.

“It is a very delicate situation that can change every hour and which we are of course all keeping an eye on,” DFB interim president Rainer Koch told ARD’s “Sportschau” and stressed: “At the moment, it is about securing world peace and thus about far more important things than football. UEFA will communicate any consequences for football as appropriate. “

Zenit meets Betis

With regard to international matches played by Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg, UEFA said it was in close contact with the associations and clubs concerned. “Currently, it is envisaged that all matches will take place as scheduled,” it said. Zenit will face Betis Sevilla in the Europa League second leg in Spain on Thursday. The UEFA Youth League match between Dynamo Kiev and Sporting Lisbon scheduled for 2 March has been postponed to 9 March, UEFA announced on Tuesday evening.

The Russian national team will also host Poland in the World Cup play-offs in the capital Moscow on 24 March. The Polish Football Association (PZPN) has also contacted UEFA in this connection. The Polish association stressed that political decisions such as the imposition of possible sanctions against the Russian Federation remain in the hands of state authorities and international bodies. However, it was also aware of a “potential threat in connection with the current situation. “

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