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Russia could be stripped of the Champions League final as early as Friday after UEFA convened an emergency meeting.
The showpiece event of European club football is scheduled to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on May 28. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on Thursday morning, means it is highly likely the final is moved, with three London venues – Wembley Stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and West Ham’s London Stadium – potential options. A UEFA statement said: ‘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 is also under increasing pressure to drop their £33million-a-season sponsorship deal with the majority state-owned Russian energy provider Gazprom, who also sponsor the UEFA Nations League and European Championship finals.
Sportsmail reported that West Ham’s owners would be open to staging the Champions League final at their 62,500-capacity London Stadium.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared it was ‘inconceivable’ that the final could be staged in Saint Petersburg.
Wembley – which holds 90,000 spectators – is an option but the stadium is set to hold the Championship and League Two play-off finals on the same weekend.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – capacity 62,850 – has no such concern.
UEFA did confirm that Zenit St Petersburg’s Europa League match away to Spanish club Real Betis will go ahead on Thursday night.
It came as Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his military forces to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine with attacks coming simultaneously from south, east and north, by land and air.
Missiles and bombs rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions were seen across the country.
Official figures said 40 Ukrainian troops had been killed in early skirmishes with ‘dozens’ wounded after Putin gave the green light for an early morning invasion on Thursday.
Ukraine claimed that six Russian jets were shot out of the sky over the eastern Donbass region with 50 Russian troops killed but Russia’s air force had taken control of the skies over the country.
Precision-guided missiles slammed into strategic targets throughout the country, including airfields, military bases, ammunition dumps and command posts.
The night sky above Kyiv was lit up as Russia targeted the command headquarters of the Ukrainian military near the city.
Highways out of the city were left gridlocked as thousands attempted to flee and air-raid sirens sounded at first light.
Also on the agenda at the UEFA meeting could be what happens with the World Cup qualification play-offs scheduled for March.
Ukraine are set to travel to Glasgow to play Scotland in the one-legged semi-final on March 24 but this match must now be in doubt.
Russia, meanwhile, is set to host Poland on the same day in their semi-final.
The winner of that match will face either Sweden or Czech Republic in the final on March 29.
However, the chairman of the Swedish Football Association said a play-off match against Russia is ‘almost unthinkable’ at the moment.
Karl-Erik Nilsson said: ‘It’s a possible scenario … spontaneously around the feelings we have as we wake up this morning are that it is almost unthinkable that we in a few weeks would play a football match in Russia.’
‘As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia,’ he added.
source: dailymail.co.ukFOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA