UEFA strips Russia of Champions League final, will be played in Paris instead

The Champions League final was scheduled to take place May 28 in St. Petersburg, Russia, but that is no longer true.

UEFA announced on Friday that Russia has been stripped of the Champions League final following Russia's military invasion of Ukraine early on Thursday. Instead, the final will be played in Paris at the Stade de France, on the same day and time as before: May 28 at 3:00 p.m. ET.

UEFA released a statement about the relocation following an "extraordinary meeting" with the UEFA executive committee to discuss the Russia-Ukraine situation.

The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.

UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis. Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.

Additionally, UEFA decided that "Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice."

This picture shows the UEFA Champions League trophy prior to the draw for the 2021/2022 European football tournament in Istanbul on August 26, 2021. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
The UEFA Champions League trophy will not be given out in Russia as planned, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Champions League sponsored by Russian energy company

With the Champions League final moved, one of UEFA's connections with Russia has ended. However, another one remains. The Champions League has been sponsored by Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom for about a decade, a deal that is reportedly worth $45 million a year.

A group of lawmakers from the European parliament wrote an open letter to UEFA on Thursday, asking it to end its deal with Gazprom and completely cut ties.

Via The Athletic:

“We call on you to stop considering Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities as venues for international football competitions and to choose as a first and very urgent step an alternative venue for the Champions League final on May 28, 2022.

“In addition, we appeal to you to convene a special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, to terminate cooperation with Gazprom as UEFA sponsor and to consider sanctions against individual Russian officials who are complicit in the violation of international law.”

It's not known if UEFA discussed its sponsorship with Gazprom during the emergency meeting Friday.

Second-tier German soccer team FC Schalke 04, which is one of the largest in the country, also announced on Thursday that they will be removing the Gazprom logo from their shirts. Gazprom has sponsored Schalke since 2007.

"Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club's shirts," the club said in a statement via NPR.

While the logo is being removed from their uniform shirts, it's not clear if Schalke is actually ending the sponsorship with Gazprom.