Ukraine says Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" with explosions heard in major cities including Kyiv and Kharkiv; Champions League final on May 28 was due to be held at Zenit St Petersburg's Gazprom Arena; Ukraine wants FIFA and UEFA to ban Russian teams from their competitions
Friday 25 February 2022 06:53, UK
UEFA will move the Champions League final from Russian city St Petersburg on Friday due to the escalating situation in Ukraine.
The final was due to take place at the 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg on May 28 but UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an "extraordinary meeting" of the Executive Committee for Friday to confirm the decision to move the match.
It is unclear whether the governing body will confirm a new venue for the final.
The Ukrainian FA also want the 2023 UEFA Super Cup final to be moved from Kazan in Russia and have asked FIFA and UEFA to ban Russian teams from their competitions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed an attack on Ukraine with explosions heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv while blasts were also reported in the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv.
European football's governing body issued a statement on Thursday, which read: "UEFA shares the international community's significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine.
"As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.
"We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow."
FIFA president Gianni Infantino called for a "rapid cessation" of the Ukraine conflict on Thursday while confirming that Russia's World Cup 2022 play-off game against Poland next month is being reviewed as "a matter of urgency."
Earlier in the day, the Polish, Czech and Swedish federations wrote to FIFA saying games should not be played in Russia, citing the "military escalation" and "lower safety."
Russia are scheduled to host a play-off semi-final against Poland on March 24 in Moscow for the right to also host the winner of a meeting between the Czech Republic and Sweden for a place in Qatar.
In other developments:
Last year's Champions League final was moved from St Petersburg to Porto because of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 final was also moved - from Istanbul to Lisbon - for the same reason.
Wembley is one possible alternative venue but the Championship and League Two play-off finals are being played there on the same weekend in May.
Sky Sports News Kaveh Solekhol said: "I think at the moment it is looking unlikely that it will be at Wembley because that weekend we have the League Two and the Championship playoffs.
"UEFA do like London as a venue, and just a few days after the Champions League final, there's this big new game that UEFA have set up with CONMBEBOL, the South American Football confederation, which will see the champions of Europe - Italy - play the champions of South America - Argentina - at Wembley. I think that is just two or three days after the Champions League final. So I'm not sure whether UEFA would want to have two big events in London.
"UEFA have got quite a few options. They need a venue that can cope with 100,000 supporters coming for the weekend, so you are thinking of places like Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Rome, Milan and of course London as well. London has the London Stadium and the Emirates Stadium as well."
Sky Sports News has spoken to two officials at Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk, following the start of Russia's invasion of the country.
Both have described a state of shock, fear and bewilderment at what is happening, with the Ukrainian Premier League season now suspended.
However, one official has told us he has been training in the use of firearms and intends to stay and fight for his country.
Club staff are mostly based in Kyiv, but others are spread throughout the country, including in Kharkiv, where explosions have been witnessed, and Donetsk - one of the breakaway cities to the east.
The club has set up a Whatsapp group to keep track of staff members whereabouts and safety, and discuss their next steps. Their main priority is the safety and well-being of staff and their families.
They have released a short statement so far via their social media, captioning a picture of the Ukrainian flag with the comment: "We'll withstand it!"
The Ukrainian league - due to restart this weekend after its winter break - has been suspended after the president announced Martial Law in the country, following invasion.
Donetsk have been playing in Kyiv since fighting broke out in the eastern Donbass region of the country in 2014 - more than 450 miles from their home ground.
Formula One says it is "closely watching" events in Ukraine but offered no comment on whether September's Russian Grand Prix will go ahead.
The sport's bosses released a statement on Thursday after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine following President Vladimir Putin's order of a "specialised military operation".
The race in Sochi, which has been on the F1 calendar since 2014, is set to take place on September 25.
An F1 spokesperson said: "Formula One is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September.
Sebastian Vettel says he will not race at the Russian Grand Prix following the country's invasion of Ukraine, with world champion Max Verstappen also calling for the event to be cancelled.
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