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UEFA to move Champions League final out of Russia amid Ukraine invasion — source

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By AP
A general view of the St. Petersburg Stadium where the 2022 Champions League final on May 28 was scheduled to be staged. Photo, June 24, 2017.
A general view of the St. Petersburg Stadium where the 2022 Champions League final on May 28 was scheduled to be staged. Photo, June 24, 2017.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, file

UEFA will no longer stage this season's Champions League final in St. Petersburg after Russia attacked Ukraine, The Associated Press has learned.

An extraordinary meeting of the UEFA executive committee will be held at 0900 GMT on Friday to discuss the crisis and where officials are likely to confirm whether the 2022 Champions League final on Saturday, May 28 should still be held at the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia, a source told the AP.

“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 .... in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions,” UEFA said in a statement confirming the meeting.

The European Parliament, British government and fan groups had asked UEFA to reverse their decision to play the showpiece of Europe's premier club competition in Russian city St. Petersburg, where the stadium is sponsored by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

“On this tragic day, our thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine, our friends, colleagues, members, & their loved ones,” the Fans Supporters Europe group tweeted on Thursday. “Given the events unfolding, we expect an imminent announcement from UEFA on the relocation of the Champions League final.”

The Ukrainian Premier League suspended operations on Thursday due to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's decision to impose martial law. The league has been on a two-month winter break and was due to resume on Friday. It did not give any planned date to restart.

The International Paralympic Committee said it was in talks with sports officials in Ukraine and Russia as their teams prepare to head to China for the start of the Paralympic Games next week.

“The IPC is in dialogue with both the Ukrainian and Russian Paralympic Committees ahead of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” the IPC said in an emailed statement. “As a politically neutral organisation, the IPC’s focus remains on the upcoming Games rather than the ongoing situation.”

Russia's name, flag and anthem are already barred from the March 4-13 Paralympics in Beijing over previous doping disputes. Its team is due to compete as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee.