UEFA Moves Champions League Final From Russia to France Over Ukraine Crisis

© AP Photo / Manu FernandezA giant replica of the UEFA Champions League trophy is displayed in Porto, Portugal, Thursday, May 27, 2021. Manchester City will play against Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday.
A giant replica of the UEFA Champions League trophy is displayed in Porto, Portugal, Thursday, May 27, 2021. Manchester City will play against Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday. - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
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On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a special operation in Ukraine, aimed at protecting the residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics, as well as to "de-Nazify Ukraine". The football organisation has condemned Moscow's actions along with Western nations.
UEFA has stripped Russia of hosting this year's final of the Champions League, the organisation has announced. It said the world's most prestigious club football tournament will be moved from Saint Petersburg to Paris. The game will be held at the Stade de France stadium. This will be France's first time hosting the UEFA Champions League final since 2006.
UEFA also said that the home games of Russian and Ukrainian football clubs in international tournaments will be played at neutral venues "until further notice". The organisation stated that its executive committee may hold further discussions "to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary".
The Russian Ministry of Sport has voiced regret over UEFA's decision, the department said in a press release. Local media outlets write, citing Deputy Governor of Saint Petersburg Boris Piotrovsky, that the funding allocated for the Champions League final in the city will now be spent on sports schools for children in Saint Petersburg.
UEFA's statement comes after it convened an emergency meeting over the situation in Ukraine. On Thursday, Russia began a military operation in its neighbour to the west.
It was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that it was aimed at protecting the residents of the two breakaway regions, the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics. The two republics announced their independence from Kiev in 2014. Putin said both the LPR and DPR requested help from Moscow after Kiev escalated attacks on the republics, a claim the Ukrainian authorities have denied.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia's actions as a "full-scale invasion" and accused Russia of conducting strikes on civilian objects, including in the capital Kiev. The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusation and said it is using high-precision weapons to attack military infrastructure in Ukraine - air defence facilities, military airfields, and aviation.
Western countries have thrown their support behind Ukraine, condemning Moscow's actions and introducing the harshest sanctions on Russia to date. The punitive measures targeted banks, government officials, businesses, as well as individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin promised to retaliate with its own punitive measures, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of turning a blind eye to war crimes committed by Kiev in the LPR and DPR.

Football organisations too voiced their condemnation of Russia's actions. Both FIFA and UEFA expressed their opposition to the special operation in Ukraine.

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

FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently said the governing body has "a duty to look into the footballing consequences of what is happening".
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