The EU pressures UEFA to take the final out of Russia

The European Union (EU) has closed ranks with Ukraine and pressures UEFA to take the Champions League final out of Russia, scheduled for May 28 in Saint Petersburg. The British ‘premier’, Boris Johnson has spoken bluntly: “I find it unacceptable that major international football tournaments, such as the Champions League final or any other, can be held in Russia after the invasion of a sovereign country.”

But moving the Champions League final from Putin’s hometown is going to give Ceferin a headache. On the one hand, the UEFA president cannot turn a deaf ear to Johnson, who was his main ally against the Super League, but on the other UEFA’s economic ties with Russia tie him since Gazprom, the world’s leading gas company, is one of the main sponsors of the Champions League. In case there was any doubt, and this is a little known fact, Alexander Dyukov, the executive director of the oil subsidiary Gazprom Neft, president of Zenit, and a close friend of Putin is part of the UEFA executive committee.

But the demand of the UE to the UEFA does not have cracks. According to the sources consulted by AS in Brussels, and despite Brexit, Boris Johnson’s position is supported by the great continental powers and France, Germany and Italy are in favor of removing the Champions League from Saint Petersburg as part of the EU sanctions to Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Spain is also in the same line, as are Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands, the other countries that still have representatives competing in the Champions League.

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If the exclusion of Russia as the host country of the Champions League final is finally confirmed, the candidates to receive it are, in this order, Germany and England. But before that, UEFA must consult with its 59 federations on how to resolve the conflict generated by the invasion of Ukraine. In addition, the conflict in eastern Europe will have more consequences, since UEFA will have to decide what to do with the World Cup play-off in Qatar in which the Ukrainian teams will compete next month, which will play against Scotland, and Russia, to be measured against Poland.

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