Explained: Why Istanbul could lose rights to organize Champions League final


The venue for the UEFA Champions League final may change for the second time in as many years. The 2020 final between Paris Saint-Germain and eventual winners Bayern Munich was originally scheduled to be held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, but has been moved to Estadio da Luz in Lisbon due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

Accommodation rights for this year’s final, between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29, could again be withdrawn from the Turkish venue. Discussions have taken place with the European governing body, UEFA, to possibly move the final to England. The decision is still pending and the Turks do not want to let it slip away again.

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Why is the change being proposed?

On Friday, the UK government placed Turkey on a ‘red list’ in terms of people traveling to the UK from there. This means that all passengers traveling to the UK from Turkey will be forced to undergo 10 days of mandatory quarantine at pre-approved airport hotels – no exceptions.
On this basis, the English clubs, their support staff and 4,000 fans each authorized to travel will have to be isolated once they return to England. It will also hamper England’s preparation for the European Championships (Euro 2020 rescheduled). Assuming the teams return on May 30, their quarantine will end on June 9 and international competition will begin on June 11.

When did Istanbul receive the accommodation rights?

In May 2018, it was decided that the Ataturk Stadium will host the 2020 Champions League final for the first time since the 2005 edition. However, due to the pandemic, the 2020 final has been moved to Lisbon, au Portugal.

The 2021 final was scheduled to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, but UEFA has decided to push back the final hosts by one year – Istanbul will host 2021 (instead of 2020), St. Petersburg will host in 2022 ( instead of 2021). ).

The Turkish stadium is now in danger of losing the rights to organize the final for the second time in as many years. Incidentally, the last and only time the site hosted a final in 2005, an English club emerged victorious as Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties – a game dubbed ‘The Istanbul Miracle’.

Is the change confirmed?

Not yet. The English Football Association (FA) is in talks with UEFA over a change.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been pushing for change to happen.

Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, left, celebrates with teammate Andreas Chistensen at the end of the Champions League semi-final semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London on Wednesday May 5, 2021. Chelsea won 2-0. (AP Photo)

“The Champions League is the pinnacle of European club football,” he told The Sun. “And with two English teams competing for the final, it would be a shame if the fans couldn’t attend. It would be great to host the game here if we can. I want to help the supporters of both clubs see their team in action. “

Britain’s Transport Secretary Grand Shapps also promoted the idea of ​​England hosting the final, but said the decision was up to UEFA.

“The UK has a successful track record of hosting matches with spectators, so we are in a good position to do it,” he said according to the BBC. “So we’re very open to it, but it’s actually a decision that UEFA has to make. But with two English clubs in the final, we can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

For the moment, all Premier League matches are taking place behind closed doors.

Istanbul registered 15,191 cases on May 9. However, the Turkish Football Federation is firm that it still owns the accommodation rights.

“UK officials seem to insist, but we are moving forward in accordance with UEFA’s instructions and statements. There has been no update on this from an official channel, we will be hosting the final in Istanbul, ”a spokesperson said, as reported by ESPN.

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Has UEFA said anything about this?

Yes, but the organization has indicated that Istanbul will host the match from now on.

“The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we have ensured that the temporary lockdown which is in effect until May 17 (in Turkey) should have no effect. impact on the match. UEFA continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Association and local and national authorities to organize the match safely, ”a UEFA spokesperson told The Guardian.

What does Istanbul have to lose?

A host city has an influx of income through tourism as hordes of traveling fans would book accommodation and dine at local restaurants. Ticket sales bring revenue, and given the high-profile nature of a Champions League final, there’s no question that sponsorship revenue comes into play.

Where can this happen if not in Istanbul?

The immediate name that comes to mind is Wembley Stadium in London. However, the site will host the play-offs of the English championship this same weekend. In Birmingham however, Aston Villa showed interest in staging the match at their Villa Park stadium.

There is also a chance that the final will move to Lisbon again this year.

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