The Union of the Football Association, UEFA on Friday voted to move this season’s Champions League final, the showcase game on the continent’s sporting calender, to Paris as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The game, on May 28, had been scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg, in a stadium built for 2018 World Cup and financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a major UEFA sponsor. Instead it will take place at the Stade de France, in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. It will be the first time France has hosted the final since 2006.

A statement from Uefa says “UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.

“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.”

UEFA also decided that it would relocate any games in tournaments it controls that were to be played in Russia and Ukraine, whether involving clubs or national teams. At the moment, that affects only a single club match: Spartak Moscow’s next home game in the second-tier Europa League.

But UEFA’s move to punish Russia will put new pressure on world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, to move a World Cup qualifying match set for Moscow next month.

Crédit : The New York Times.