The 2022 final was to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium, which is sponsored by Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom, but is now moving to the Stade de France in Paris to be played on its original May 28 date.
“UEFA would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic for his personal support and commitment to move Europe’s most prestigious club football game to France at a time of unprecedented crisis,” a UEFA statement said on Friday. .
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to secure the rescue of footballers and their families in Ukraine who are facing severe human suffering, destruction and displacement.”
UEFA added that Russian and Ukrainian clubs that still participate in UEFA competitions – the Champions League, the Europa League and the Conference League – will have to play home games “until further notice” in neutral locations.
“As the governing body of European football, UEFA works tirelessly to develop and promote football in accordance with common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.
“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to reach out to the Ukrainian people.”
Russian Grand Prix canceled ‘in the current circumstances’
Meanwhile, Formula 1 announced on Friday that the Russian Grand Prix, originally scheduled to take place in Sochi from September 23-25, could not be held “in the current circumstances”.
An F1 statement added: “We are following developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful solution that will bring nations together.”
The decision came after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said he would not race in Russia if the Grand Prix went ahead.
“My own opinion is I shouldn’t go, I won’t go,” Vettel, who races for Aston Martin, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday, adding: “I’m sorry for the innocent people who lose their lives, being killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and insane leadership.”
“If a country is at war, it’s not correct to race there, that’s for sure,” the Red Bull driver told reporters.
Wider football world responds
Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi scored twice for Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday evening, unveiling a “No War in Ukraine” shirt under his jersey to celebrate his first goal.
Malinovskyi played against Olympiakos in Greece hours after his country was invaded by Russia, scoring the first of two stunning attacks midway through the second half of the second leg of the knockout stage.
The 28-year-old lifted his jersey and revealed a shirt with the anti-war message written on it, before adding a second goal minutes later with a dizzying attack from outside the box.
His brace secured a 3-0 win of the evening and a 5-1 aggregate win for the Italian side, who now progress to the last 16 of the competition.
Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said he had asked Malinovskyi – who has parents and family in Ukraine – on the morning of the game if he felt ready to play the game.
“We are living in a special moment and for him it is even more so,” Gasperini told Sky Italia.
“This morning I asked him if he would like to play because he still has parents and family in Ukraine. I am happy with this brace.
“Sometimes football doesn’t solve problems, but a small contribution can be made to make everyone feel closer: we hope this thing can be solved.”
Barcelona and Napoli players gathered to display a ‘Stop War’ banner before their Europa League second leg match in Naples.
Just before kick-off, the starting players from both teams gathered to hold up a white banner with the message in a red capital letter.
Meanwhile, German football club FC Schalke 04 says it will remove the Gazprom logo from their jerseys and replace it with the team’s name.
But the club has not disclosed whether it is reviewing ties with the Russian state gas giant, which has sponsored the team since 2007.
Schalke, seven-time winner of the German first division, will play in the second division this year after relegation from the Bundesliga last season.
Ukrainian footballer Oleksandr Zinchenko, who plays for English Premier League leader Manchester City, took to Instagram on Tuesday to express his support for Ukrainians amid mounting tensions with Russia.
“I can’t stand back and [not] make my point. The country where I was born and raised. A country whose colors I defend in the international sports arena. A country that we try to glorify and develop. A country whose borders must remain intact.
“My land belongs to Ukrainians and no one will ever be able to claim it. We will not give up! Glory to Ukraine.”
Ukrainian football icon and former national team manager Andriy Shevchenko begs the world to help his homeland.
The ex-footballer said Ukraine and its people want “peace and territorial integrity. Please support our country and call the Russian government to stop their aggression and violation of international law.
“We only want peace. War is not the answer,” Shevchenko added.
Meanwhile, Fyodor Smolov was one of the first Russian footballers to speak out on Thursday against his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Smolov currently plays for Dynamo Moscow after signing for the Russian Premier League in January.
On Thursday, the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said their World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of March should not take place in Russia.
Klitschko brothers take up arms
Ukrainian former world heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko made a passionate plea for the defense of democracy on Linkedin on Thursday.
Writing from Kiev, the 45-year-old described the Russian invasion as “Putin’s war” and the result of the Russian president’s “megalomania”.
“Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. That’s it, blood will mix with tears.
“We must face reality and have the courage to draw conclusions for our future and that of our children. This is a flagrant violation of international law.”
Klitschko, a Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist in Atlanta in 1996, claimed that he and his country “don’t want this war basically” but now rely on Western governments to defend democracy “before it’s too late”.
“This war against my country is not only the result of one man’s madness, but also the result of years of weakness in Western democracies.
“This madness must now be stopped by increasing deterrents. Our governments must say things loud and clear.”
Vitali Klitschko said he had no choice but to take up arms and fight for his country with his brother.
Nicknamed “Dr. Ironfist” during his fighting days and also a former heavyweight world champion, Vitali Klitschko has served as the mayor of Kiev since 2014.
“I have no other choice, I have to do that. I will fight,” Vitali Klitschko told British broadcaster ITV on “Good Morning Britain”.
The 50-year-old said the main goal at the moment was to support critical infrastructure and ensure the continued supply of basic services such as gas, water and heating to Ukrainian citizens.
“I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country, I believe in my people,” he added. “Ukraine has always been a peaceful country, a peaceful people, but now we have to take up arms and fight.”
IOC strongly condemns the violation of the Olympic truce
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday strongly condemned the Russian government’s violation of the Olympic truce for invading Ukraine.
“Following recent events, the IOC is deeply concerned about the security of the Olympic Community in Ukraine. It has established a task force to closely monitor the situation and, where possible, coordinate humanitarian assistance to the members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine,” according to the IOC. said in a statement.
The Olympic Truce is a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 2, 2021, which, among other things, calls on all member states to cooperate with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee “to use sport as a tool to promote peace.” , dialogue and reconciliation in conflict zones during and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games period.”
The ceasefire went into effect seven days before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 4 and will end seven days after the conclusion of the Paralympic Games, which will end on March 13.