UEFA, FIFA ‘monitoring the situation’ in light of escalating Russia-Ukraine crisis

St. Petersburg is poised to stage the UEFA Champions League Final — the biggest match in men’s European club football — on Saturday, May 28.

The Krestovsky Stadium, which is sponsored by Russian state-owned company Gazprom, previously hosted matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2020.

It had initially been slated to stage last year’s showpiece event, but this was pushed back to 2022 after Istanbul missed out on hosting the event in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 travel restrictions in Turkey subsequently forced UEFA to move last year’s final to Portugal for the second year running.

“With regard to the 2022 UEFA Champions League final in St Petersburg, we would like to inform you that UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation and any decision would be made in due course if necessary. UEFA has no further comments to make at present,” a UEFA spokesperson told CNN Tuesday.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Wednesday that English teams should boycott May’s final — if they make it — as a result of Russia’s actions.

“If I was on an English team, I would boycott it,” Truss told British radio station LBC. “I would personally not want to be playing in a football match in St. Petersburg given what the Putin regime is doing.”

Four English teams — Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool — are among the 16 teams left in this year’s competition.

Russian and Ukrainian teams in UEFA, FIFA competitions

There are no Ukrainian teams left in any of UEFA’s major men’s or women’s club competitions, while there are no Russian clubs remaining in either the men’s or women’s UEFA Champions League or the men’s UEFA Conference League.

Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg is, though, one of two teams remaining in the men’s UEFA Europa League competition. They are set to play the second leg of their knockout round-of-32 playoff tie against Real Betis in Spain on Thursday. Zenit currently trail 3-2 in the tie.

Spartak Moscow has already qualified through to the Round of 16 by virtue of finishing top of their group in the Group Stages.

Spartak Moscow -- seen here celebrating after a Europa League match against Napoli -- is one of two Russian teams still in European competition.

UEFA also announced that it had taken the decision to postpone the UEFA Youth League Round of 16 tie between Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Lisbon, which was scheduled to be played in Kyiv on March 2.

The match is now due to take place a week later on March 9, with UEFA adding that it “is in contact with the two clubs for any further decision.”

On the international scene, Russia is scheduled to host Poland in a men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier playoff semifinal on March 24. The game is due to be held at the VTB Arena in Moscow.

The winner of that tie would then face Sweden or the Czech Republic at home on March 29 for a place at November’s finals.

Ukraine also features in the playoffs. It’s due to play Scotland away in Glasgow on March 24 in the semifinal and, should it be victorious, would then be away again to either Wales or Austria on March 29 to secure a place in Qatar.

FIFA told CNN it is “monitoring the situation.”

Manchester City and Ukraine star Oleksandr Zinchenko took to social media Tuesday to voice his support for Ukrainians amid an escalation of tensions with Russia.

Writing on Instagram, Zinchenko, who has 48 international caps to his name, said: “The whole civilized world is worried about the situation in my country. I can’t stand back and [not] put across my point. The country in which I was born and raised. A country whose colors I defend in the international sports arena. A country that we are trying to glorify and develop. A country whose borders must remain intact.

“My country belongs to Ukrainians and no one will ever be able to appropriate it. We will not give up! Glory to Ukraine.”

Russia and Ukraine are also scheduled to play their next round of 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers in April.

Russia faces away matches in Montenegro and Malta on April 7 and April 12, respectively, while Ukraine is poised to welcome Scotland and Hungary to Kyiv on April 8 and April 12, respectively.

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