(Reuters) -UEFA will move this year’s Champions League final from St Petersburg in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Thursday.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee on Friday morning and it is expected to agree on moving the final.
The showcase match in European club football was set to be held at Zenit St Petersburg’s stadium on May 28 – an event that would have normally drawn thousands of fans from across the continent.
The stadium is known as the Gazprom Stadium after a sponsorship deal with Russia’s state energy company, which also sponsors UEFA’s Champions League and UEFA’s Euro 2024 national team competition.
“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,” UEFA said in a statement.
“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow,” the organisation added in a further statement.
Zenit St Petersburg are in action in the Europa League on Thursday, playing in Spain against Real Betis, and UEFA said that game would not be impacted.
“UEFA can confirm that all tonight’s games will be played as scheduled,” the organisation said.
A group of European lawmakers wrote to UEFA on Thursday, asking it to change the venue and to stop considering Russian cities for international football competitions.
The 2023 Champions League final is due to be held in Istanbul with Wembley in London hosting the following year and Munich’s Allianz Arena the venue for the final in 2025.
UEFA’s later statement condemned the Russian invasion.
“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” the organisation said.
“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.”
In a separate move, German club Schalke 04 said it was removing Gazprom’s logo from its shirts due to events in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Manchester and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrew Heavens, Hugh Lawson and Alex Richardson)