UEFA to move Champions League final from Russia

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Russia's military assault on neighbouring Ukraine unfolded after President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two pro-Russia breakaway regions in the east of the country, leading Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to sever diplomatic ties and declare martial law.

With Russia's actions attracting international condemnation, UEFA has been forced to backtrack on claims earlier this week that there were "no plans" to move the final.

Stats Perform now understands that the decision has been made to strip Zenit St Petersburg's Gazprom Arena of the showpiece event, and all that remains is to find a suitable replacement venue.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an emergency meeting of the organisation's executive committee, which will take place on Saturday (AEDT).

"UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine," a statement from European football's governing body read.

"As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.  

"We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine, and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.

"We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow."

A formal announcement on a change of venue is expected at the conclusion of the meeting, and the 2022 edition will now be the third consecutive Champions League final to require such a switch.

The final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in 2020 was played behind closed doors at Lisbon's Estadio da Luz, rather than at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium, owing to the impact of COVID-19. 

Last year's clash between Chelsea and Manchester City, meanwhile, was also moved from Istanbul, being played at Porto's Estadio do Dragao, with British fans having been unable to travel to Turkey due to coronavirus restrictions.