St Petersburg stripped of Champions League final over Ukraine invasion

Madrid Desk, Feb 25 (EFE).- This season’s Champions League final, which was due to be played in St Petersburg, will be moved to Paris, Uefa said Friday, in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

The decision by European football’s governing body is part of the international outcry against Moscow over its deadly aggression against its neighbor that began Thursday.

In a statement, Uefa said: “Following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final (…) from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis.”

Uefa added that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in European competitions “will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.”

The change of venue for European soccer’s showpiece – which will be the first to be held since 2019 without pandemic restrictions – is likely to lead to losses of between 60 and 70 million euros for Russia’s second largest city, the birthplace of Vladimir Putin.

The 2019 final in Madrid generated 63 million euros for the city’s coffers, Miguel Garrido, president of the Madrid business owners’ association (CEIM), tells Efe.

“Holding events of this caliber is very beneficial for cities and has an impact on many sectors such as leisure, catering, transport and entertainment,” says Garrido, who points out that revenues have been steadily rising over the years. In 2010, when Inter Milan and Bayern Munich played at the Santiago Bernabeu, 50 million euros were collected by the Spanish capital.

“It’s not only the economic impact, but also the publicity for the city itself. The Madrid brand reached 350 million people thanks to the Champions League final,” adds Garrido.

On Thursday, German Bundesliga club Schalke 04 distanced itself from its main shirt sponsor, Russian state energy company Gazprom, giving up a reported nine million euros in annual revenue. Gazprom also sponsors the Champions League. EFE


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