Istanbul to keep Champions League final despite two English teams

Uefa has no plans to shift the venue of the Champions League final, which is to be contested by two English clubs, from Istanbul despite Turkey currently being under lockdown.

As many as 4,000 supporters each from Manchester City and Chelsea are expected to be offered tickets for the showpiece event on 29 May. Questions remain, however, over whether the UK government will allow travel to the event, with a list of approved destinations due to be announced on Friday.

Speculation had suggested that the final could be moved to Wembley to limit the Covid risk for supporters but there is no plan for such a change, with Wembley hosting the play-off finals on that weekend. Relocation would also pose a problem for officials and media wanting to travel into the UK who may themselves have to quarantine.

There is no suggestion that Istanbul wishes to relinquish the rights to the final either. The city already forfeited hosting last year’s match between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain when the final stages of the tournament were moved to Lisbon because of the pandemic.

The UK government’s new “traffic light” list for travel is expected to include fewer than 10 countries in the green category, with Turkey unlikely to be in that number. Despite enduring a traumatic second wave of the virus in recent months, however, infection rates are falling rapidly in the country and have more than halved in the past two weeks. Turkey also has the seventh-highest rate of vaccination in the world with more than 23 million people having received at least one shot.

Case rates and vaccination rates are criteria being considered by the government in devising its travel list and an amber listing, which would permit travel contingent on a 10-day quarantine upon return, could be possible. Turkey is set to come out of lockdown on 17 May.

A spokesperson for Uefa said: “The Uefa Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on 29 May with a limited number of spectators and we are assured the temporary lockdown which is in force until 17 May should not have any impact on the match. Uefa continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely.

“Detailed information regarding the capacity for the match, travel and ticketing details will be communicated publicly by the end of the week.”

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