Istanbul to keep Champions League final despite two English teams

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UEFA have no plans to move the venue of the Champions League final from Istanbul, which is to be played by two English clubs, although Turkey is currently under lockdown.

As many as 4,000 Manchester City and Chelsea supporters are expected to be offered tickets to the May 29 flagship event. 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 the final could be moved to Wembley to limit the Covid risk for supporters, but there is no plan for such a move, with Wembley hosting the play-off finals this weekend. The relocation would also pose a problem for officials and media wishing to travel to the UK, who could themselves be quarantined.

There is also no indication that Istanbul wants to give up its rights to the final. The city has already lost the organization of last year’s game between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain when the final stages of the tournament were moved to Lisbon due to the pandemic.

The UK government’s new list of ‘traffic lights’ for travel is expected to include fewer than 10 countries in the green category, with Turkey likely not among that number. Despite a traumatic second wave of the virus in recent months, infection rates are declining rapidly in the country, having more than halved in the past two weeks. Turkey also has the seventh highest vaccination rate in the world with more than 23 million people having received at least one vaccine.

Case rates and vaccination rates are criteria taken into account by the government in developing its travel list and an orange list, which would allow travel subject to a 10-day quarantine upon return, could be possible. Turkey is expected to emerge from the lockdown on May 17.

A UEFA spokesperson said: “The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured that the temporary lockdown which is in effect until to May 17 should have no impact on the game. UEFA continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Association and local and national authorities to organize the match safely.

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

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