UEFA’s demands created a problem for UK officials, however, as they had to balance the popular appeal of hosting a major sporting event featuring two English teams in the country and lingering health concerns public in the midst of a spread of the virus. When the government hesitated on UEFA’s request to waive quarantine requirements so that UEFA staff – as well as broadcasters, sponsors, suppliers and international officials – could attend the match without a period of isolation , the prospect of a final in London was dead.
In Portugal, the European football organization has found a familiar savior to get it out of a crisis. The country – and Lisbon in particular – came to the rescue last year when the Champions League finals, including a final also scheduled for Istanbul, had to be rescheduled due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
The tournament, suspended on the eve of the quarter-finals, ended with a knockout format and in a so-called bubble environment in Lisbon. Turkish officials had agreed to relinquish their role as host of the final in exchange for a promise that Istanbul will host the final this year.
Discussions about a move ended quickly. Last Friday, after City and Chelsea confirmed the all-English final and as talks revolved around a change of venue, Tiago Craveiro, the Portuguese football federation’s general manager, contacted UEFA. Football officials were then in shock at the sudden announcement that day that travelers from Britain faced severe restrictions on any travel to Turkey. This created a crisis that went far beyond issues of fan access.
Players on both sides were faced with the prospect of having to isolate themselves for 10 days upon their return to Britain, creating doubts over their participation in the European Championship, the competition for national teams hosted by UEFA which is second in size and importance only after the FIFA World Cup. .
With Portugal on Britain’s green list – and therefore subject to much less strict travel rules – Craveiro has offered to hold the final on short notice. Porto were chosen because they did not have the opportunity to host Champions League games last year when the event was confined to their Lisbon bubble.
Friendly that Istanbul has lost for the second year in a row, UEFA officials plan to offer Turkish officials the Champions League final in 2023, to coincide with the centenary of the Republic of Turkey.