Istanbul’s hosting of Champions League final in doubt with Turkey on ‘red list’

The Champions League trophy (PA Archive)
18:19pm, Fri 07 May 2021
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Istanbul’s hosting of the all-English Champions League final has been thrown into doubt after Turkey was placed on the British Government’s coronavirus ‘red list’.

UK citizens returning from ‘red list’ countries are required to quarantine at a Government-approved hotel for 10 days.

The Government announced Turkey had been added to the list of high-risk countries at a briefing on Friday evening.

Manchester City and Chelsea booked their places in the final on May 29 after overcoming Paris St Germain and Real Madrid respectively earlier this week.

Immediately talk turned to England hosting the final, with Turkey in a lockdown.

Speaking at a press conference, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Red countries are those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances, where repeated testing and isolation in designated Government hotels on return is compulsory.

“Non-UK residents who have been in a red country in the last 10 days will still be barred from entering the UK.

“I must tell you that now due to concerns about Covid rates and variants of concern, Turkey, the Maldives, Nepal must regrettably be added to the red list.”

Shapps added fans should not travel and confirmed the Football Association has approach UEFA over whether the match could be moved to England.

Grant Shapps (PA Wire)

Shapps said: “I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list. This will have a number of ramifications. First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

“The FA are in discussions with UEFA on this. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA.

“Of course the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well placed to do it.

“We are very open to it but it is in the end a decision for UEFA to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to what they have to say.”

However, UEFA had insisted earlier this week that it had no plans to change the venue, stating: “The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 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.”

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust added to the voices calling for the match to be switched to the UK.

The Chelsea fan group revealed plans for a meeting with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin this week, with the intention of urging the European boss to relocate the fixture.

“Turkey has been added to the red list and therefore no CFC supporters can travel to watch the UCL final,” read a CST tweet.

“We are meeting with the UEFA president this week and will request that the fixture is moved to the UK.”

The PA news agency has contacted City and Chelsea for comment.

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