The Stade de France becomes the new venue of the Champions League final but it is vital to remember why


UEFA have announced that Paris will now host the 2022 Champions League final, in the place of the originally allocated St. Petersburg, after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

World leaders have united over the past days to condemn the actions of the Russian military which began on Thursday following weeks of growing tensions between the former Soviet neighbours.

Following an emergency meeting from UEFA on Friday, the 81,000 capacity stadium will now stage the final of Europe’s elite club competition on May 28th, 16 years on from its last Champions League final where Barcelona overcame Arsenal.

The governing body made a statement following their decision to move the final of the competition to the Stade de France.

“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.

“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.”

The Kremlin responded to the decision with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov making an announcement.

“It’s a shame that such a decision has been made.

“St. Petersburg could have provided all favourable conditions to hold this festival of soccer.”

Holders Chelsea, as well as Manchester City and Manchester United, came away from their respective Round of 16 first legs with positive results, with five English teams making the final over the last four seasons.

However, it is not just the Champions League final that has been affected by the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine when it comes to football.

Clubs and the national teams of both countries competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play out their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.

Russian Premier League side Spartak Moscow are the only club to currently be affected by this requirement, with Paolo Vanoli’s side set to face RB Leipzig in the Europa League Round of 16, with the first leg set to be played in just under two weeks.

Moreover, both national teams are set to compete in the 2022/23 Nations League which is scheduled to start in June.

Closer to home, Premier League titan Manchester United announced the drop of their £40m commercial partnership with Russian state airline Aeroflot.

The two parties initially joined forces in 2013 with the most recent deal beginning in 2017 ahead of expiration next year. It is believed Qatar Airways are under consideration to be the Red Devils’ new flight partner.

Although the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has already caused complications within ‘The Beautiful Game’, it is vital to remember that the changing of a sporting venue or the dropping of a £40m sponsorship deal by a multi-billion pound footballing giant is of little significance.

The attention must be on those directly affected. The families sending off fathers, split up potentially forever. Those who are attempting to flee, or have attempted and have been unsuccessful.

Who knows to what extent these abhorrent events will escalate to, but when that football match is played in three months’ time, every fan watching should have in their mind why the venue was changed and consider those directly affected by the consequences of conflict.

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