The UEFA Champions League final on 29 May has been moved to the city of Porto following an offer by the Portuguese FA (FPF) and the Portuguese authorities to host the highly anticipated showdown between Chelsea and Manchester City.
The all-English final featuring the two Premier League teams was set to be staged at the Atatürk Stadium in Istanbul until the UK government placed Turkey on the ‘red list’ for international travel, meaning fans would be unable to attend the fixture.
London’s Wembley Stadium was considered as an alternative venue, however, UEFA said it was ‘not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions’ due to the quarantine protocols in place.
“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 [Portuguese Football Federation] and the Portuguese government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice,” said UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin.
“I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured.”
The European football governing body confirmed that 6,000 tickets will be made available per club, with the final capacity at the Estadio do Dragao still to be decided, although the numbers of fans from each team who will be able to attend is the same as was planned in Istanbul.
“The final was originally scheduled to take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul 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 none of the clubs’ domestic fans would be able to travel to the game,” a UEFA statement noted.
“After a year of fans being locked out of stadiums, UEFA thought that everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the two 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.”
Meanwhile, the legal case between the European Super League, FIFA and UEFA has been referred to the European Court of Justice.
A Madrid Court has requested that the Court of Justice investigates whether footballing authorities FIFA and UEFA are breaching the European Union competition law by preventing clubs from forming the breakaway league.
LaLiga duo Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, along with Serie A side Juventus, released a statement condemning the ‘intolerable’ threats the clubs have received from FIFA and UEFA.
The joint statement read: “The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.”
Last month, the Madrid Court passed a holding order that FIFA, UEFA and associated federations cannot adopt any measure which ‘prohibits, restricts, limits or conditions in any way’ the Super League, with the court document focusing on Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Article 101 prohibits cartels and other agreements which could disrupt free competition in the bloc, while 102 prevents undertakings who hold a dominant position in a market from abusing that position.
The Madrid Court has also asked whether UEFA can impose restrictions – such as bans from the UEFA Champions League – on clubs that are still a part of the ESL, a day after the football governing body opened a disciplinary investigation into the three remaining clubs.