UEFA is to announce on Friday it is moving the Champions League final from St Petersburg, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an “extraordinary meeting” of its executive committee when officials will discuss the crisis.
It is widely reported, but not confirmed, that the showpiece match on 28 May will no longer be played at the 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg.
Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10:00 CET on Friday 25 February, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.
— UEFA (@UEFA) February 24, 2022
In a tweet posted on Thursday, European football’s governing body said: “Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.”
Chelsea, the current holders, are one of four English teams left in this season’s tournament, along with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Former England striker and Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker was among those backing UEFA’s move, calling it “the right decision” in a tweet.
UEFA is to move the Champions League final away from Russia. The right decision.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) February 24, 2022
Andriy Shevchenko, the ex-Chelsea and AC Milan striker and Ukraine’s all-time record goalscorer, said on Instagram: “My people and my family are under attack. We only want peace. War is not the answer.”
The Ukrainian FA has contacted FIFA and UEFA to call for Russia to be removed from the World Cup play-offs and its clubs kicked out of the Europa League.
The football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said they would boycott any World Cup play-off match with Russia if FIFA did not move proposed fixtures from Moscow.
An MP has also called for Roman Abramovich to be forced to give up ownership of Chelsea.
Labour’s Chris Bryant, speaking at business questions in the House of Commons, said he had a leaked Home Office document from 2019.
It showed that at the time, Mr Bryant said, the Russian-Israeli billionaire was of interest to the government “due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices”.
The document, he said, cited court proceedings in which Mr Abramovich admitted paying for political influence.
“That is nearly three years ago and yet remarkably little has been done in relation. Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?
“Surely we should be looking at seizing some of his assets including his £152m home?” Mr Bryant added.
Formula 1 is also considering its position after four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said September’s scheduled Russian Grand Prix should be cancelled, saying “for me, I should not go, I will not go”.
The fall-out from Vladimir Putin’s action has also affected Gazprom, the Russian energy conglomerate which sponsors German second division club FC Schalke 04.
The club said in a statement posted on Twitter: “Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club’s shirts.”
Gazprom also sponsors the Champions League itself, a deal renewed in May, while the stadium hosted matches in the 2018 Fifa World Cup and Uefa’s Euro 2020 tournament.
The Ukrainian Premier League, which was due to resume on Friday after an 11-week winter break, has been suspended.