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Uefa ‘set to move’ Champions League final from Istanbul

An aerial view shows Ataturk Olympic Stadium (by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Uefa is said to be planning to move the 2019-20 Champions League final away from Istanbul due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is thought to be weighing up alternative locations ahead of an Executive Committee meeting later this month.

This season’s Champions League final was due to have taken place at Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Saturday (May 30), but the continental club football competition is still stuck at the round-of-16 phase due to the calendar shutdown.

The governing body of European football is due to gather its ExCo on June 17 to discuss a range of matters, including new plans for the postponed Euro 2020 national team tournament. The Associated Press news agency, citing one person with knowledge of the planning, said Uefa has already concluded Istanbul is no longer viable as a host city for this year’s Champions League final, with one option to conclude the season being to stage all remaining matches in one city.

The choice of Champions League final venue is likely to be determined by travel logistics amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and the ability to implement necessary hygiene measures and testing. Uefa said a variety of options are being explored for its competitions, but no decisions have been made.

Atatürk Olympic Stadium was awarded hosting rights to the 2020 Champions League final in May 2018. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) last month underlined its intention to retain hosting rights to the game, staging it in August to conclude its domestic season.

Atatürk Stadium famously staged the 2005 Champions League final, when English Premier League team Liverpool came back from 3-0 down at half-time to defeat Italian Serie A side AC Milan on penalties.