European football’s yearly showpiece is due to be held in St Petersburg in May, but the match could now be moved to another host city due to the Ukraine crisis. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tells Sky News the match “shouldn’t” be held in Russia.
Political reporter @GregHeffer
Wednesday 23 February 2022 11:08, UK
This year’s Champions League final should not be held in Russia following Vladimir Putin’s actions over Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has told Sky News.
European football’s yearly showpiece is due to be held in St Petersburg on 28 May, but the match could now be moved to another host city due to the Ukraine crisis.
UEFA, European football’s governing body, is widely reported to be considering switching the final’s venue from St Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena.
Ms Truss added to the pressure on UEFA to act as she urged the West to “disassociate ourselves” from the regime of Mr Putin.
The Russian president this week ordered troops to enter two regions of Ukraine after declaring them to be “independent” states.
Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley whether this year’s final should be held in Russia, the foreign secretary replied: “No it shouldn’t be. I’m very clear it shouldn’t be.”
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Ms Truss added: “The way that Russia is behaving we should not be in any way seen to condone that behaviour, we must condemn it absolutely.
“We are in real danger at present of a full-scale invasion on Ukraine and all we can do to disassociate ourselves from Russia and this appalling regime we should do now.”
The Gazprom Arena is named after the majority Russian state-owned energy giant for sponsorship reasons.
Gazprom is also a Champions League sponsor.
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Four English sides – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United – remain in this year’s Champions League and have a chance of reaching the final.
Ms Truss confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “misspoke” when he told MPs on Tuesday that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had previously been sanctioned by the UK.
Asked whether the billionaire should have been sanctioned, Ms Truss said: “I’m not going to go into details of what our future sanctions plans are, but nothing is off the table.”
Manchester United are reported to have not used their longstanding commercial partner Aeroflot to travel to Wednesday night’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid.
According to The Athletic, the club instead travelled with a different charter airline rather than the majority Russian state-owned Aeroflot.
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Manchester City’s Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, who played in last year’s Champions League final against Chelsea, posted on Instagram on Tuesday to say that “no one will ever be able to appropriate” his country.
The 25-year-old, who has previously captained Ukraine, wrote: “My country is in this picture. The country where I was born and grew up. The country whose colours I defend on the international sporting stage.
“The country that we try to glorify and develop. The country whose borders must remain inviolable.
“My country belongs to the Ukrainians and nobody will ever be able to appropriate it. We will not give up what is ours! Glory to Ukraine!”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs that it is “inconceivable that major international football tournaments can take place in Russia after the invasion of a sovereign country”.