UEFA will be stripped of hosting the Champions League final in St. Petersburg after Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, the Associated Press has learned.
The announcement came after 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.
An extraordinary meeting of the UEFA executive committee will be held on Friday to discuss the geopolitical crisis and when officials are set to confirm taking the May 28 showpiece game out of Russia, a person with knowledge of the process said on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.
UEFA did publicly rebuke Russia and said it was dealing with the situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency while confirming the meeting for 0900 GMT on Friday. 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 governing body said in a statement.
The Champions League 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 the 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.
Zenit St Petersburg are in action in the Europa League on Thursday, playing in Spain against Real Betis and UEFA said that game will not be impacted.
"UEFA can confirm that all tonight's games will be played as scheduled," the organisation said.