UEFA Champions League final moved to Porto from Istanbul

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The 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League final match between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29 has been moved from Istanbul to Porto, European football ruling body UEFA confirmed on Thursday.

UEFA said the development was as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the second consecutive year Istanbul has been unable to host the showpiece as planned due to the global health crisis with Portugal stepping in.

Last season Lisbon held a mini-tournament culminating in a closed door final, when Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

But this year, Porto’s Dragao Stadium will welcome 6,000 fans from each team.

The switch was prompted by the UK Government putting Turkey on its “red list” for travel due to coronavirus numbers in the the country.

Those visiting from the UK face a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine period on their return.

Portugal is on the UK’s “green list” for travel, meaning there is no quarantine period for those returning from the country.

“Fans have had to suffer more than 12 months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League final is the pinnacle of club football,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

“To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found.”

London’s Wembley was reportedly another option and UEFA confirmed it “discussed moving the match to England.

“But, in spite of 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.”

Ceferin said UEFA accepted the decision to place Turkey on the UK’s red list for travel “was taken in good faith …

“But it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams.”

UEFA has already allocated the 2022 final to St Petersburg, 2023 to Munich and 2024 to London and did not say if, like last year, there would be another reshuffle.

Ceferin did say though that he hopes “to be in Istanbul and Turkey for a Champions League final and many other events in the near future.”

On Thursday UEFA also said Spanish match official Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz will refeee the contest.

Lahoz, 44, has refereed internationally since 2011 and previously served as fourth official at another all-English final when Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur to win the 2019 Champions League.

Three days earlier Villarreal meet Manchester United in the Europa League final Gdansk, Poland, with 38-year-old Frenchman Clement Turpin as referee.