UEFA Monitors Ukraine Crisis Amid Calls to Pull Soccer Final Out of Russia

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is considering backup locations that could host this year's Champions League final amid the increasing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The European soccer event was set to take place on May 28 in St. Petersburg's Krestovsky Stadium. Unnamed sources told ESPN that while no decision has been made yet, the political situation in the country is being monitored and alternative locations are being reviewed.

Should the match be moved, it would be another economic consequence for Russia if it invades, as severe sanctions from the United States and European countries are expected to follow an attack on Ukraine. Also, the possible transfer of the Champions League final from St. Petersburg increases the likelihood of Russia and Ukraine having to reschedule more soccer matches in the future, as both countries' national teams are supposed to play World Cup playoff games in March, according to Eurosport.

"UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation, and any decision would be made in due course if necessary," the UEFA said in a statement sent to Newsweek. It added it would make no further comment at this time.

The move comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions' independence from Ukraine. Putin has called on Russia's lawmakers to work on measures that would provide military support to the two so-called people's republics, causing major concern for both Ukraine and its allies.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the idea that the Champions League final could still take place in Russia "inconceivable," Reuters reported. In a Tuesday tweet, Nadine Dorries, U.K. secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said she also has "serious concerns" about this and "will discuss with the relevant governing bodies."

"We won't allow President Putin to exploit events on the world stage to legitimise his illegal invasion of Ukraine," she wrote.

U.K. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch told Eurosport the UEFA should "immediately" move the match elsewhere.

"The ban on politicians and officials traveling to the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup was a soft message to President Putin which made no significant difference," she said. "So UEFA needs to take a much stronger stance, not least to ensure the safety of traveling fans."

As four English soccer clubs—Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea—are still in the competition, the possibility of London's Wembley Stadium becoming the new location has increased, although the stadium is also set to host the 2024 final, according to ESPN.

St. Petersburg was scheduled to host the final in 2021, but the event had to be moved to Porto, Portugal, because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Update 02/22/22, 1:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and a statement from the UEFA.

UEFA Champions League, St. Petersburg
The Union of European Football Associations is looking for other locations to host the Champions League final should the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalate. Above, Claudinho of Zenit St. Petersburg and Reece James of Chelsea FC during the UEFA Champions League group H match on December 8, 2021, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo by MB Media/Getty Images