UEFA Moves Champions League Final to Portugal, as COVID-19 Scares Hurt Turkey
Turkey has lost the chance to host the 2021 final of the Champions League due to COVID-19 concerns, and the final has been shifted to Porto’s Estádio do Dragão in Portugal.
The European football authority (UEFA) announced this on its official website on Thursday.
“The UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea will be held at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on 29 May”, UEFA said.
“The final had been scheduled to take place at Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium but, following the UK government’s decision to place Turkey on its ‘red list’ of COVID-19 travel destinations, staging the final there would have meant that none of the clubs’ domestic fans would have been able to travel to the game. After a year of fans being locked out of stadiums, UEFA felt that everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the finalist teams could attend.
“UEFA discussed moving the match to England but, despite exhaustive efforts on the part of the Football Association and the authorities, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements.
“The Portuguese authorities and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) stepped in and worked quickly and seamlessly with UEFA to offer a fitting venue for the final. Because Portugal is a ‘green list’ destination for the UK, fans and players attending the final will not have to quarantine on their return home.
“The decision does not come without big regret for the work that the Turkish football authorities have done over the past two years to ensure the successful staging of the final in Istanbul. UEFA is grateful for their continued partnership and cooperative spirit as well as the understanding they showed in this particular circumstance, and will urgently look into future opportunities for the city of Istanbul.
“The stadium capacity for the game will be finalised and confirmed in due course. However, fans of Manchester City and Chelsea will be able to buy tickets through their clubs in the usual way, with 6,000 tickets per club going on sale as soon as possible. The window for ticket sales for the general public will open on 24 May 2021 at 14:00 CEST.
“The number of fans from each team who will be able to attend is the same as planned in Istanbul.
“Announcing the decision, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured. Fans have had to suffer more than 12 months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League final is the pinnacle of club football. To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found.
“’After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don’t have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season. Once again we have turned to our friends in Portugal to help both UEFA and the Champions League, and I am as always very grateful to the FPF and the Portuguese Government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice.
“’They have worked tirelessly in very tight time constraints in finding solutions for the many challenges that hosting a game of this magnitude presents. Whenever there has been an obstacle, they have been creative in the solutions presented and the success of staging this year’s final is entirely down to their hard work and persistence.
“’We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams.
“The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen.
“’The Turkish Football Federation and the Turkish authorities have recognised UEFA’s efforts to give fans of the competing clubs a chance to watch the game. The Turkish Football Federation and the authorities have always been reliable partners of UEFA, and Turkey has hosted many UEFA events over the years with great success. I hope to be in Istanbul and Turkey for a Champions League final and many other events in the near future.
“’I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans who travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football.’”
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