The fixture was due to take place at the Ataturk Stadium in Turkey on May 29. However, pressure was mounted by various stakeholders for the venue to be changed after the UK government placed;Turkey on its ‘red’ list of at-risk countries and urged fans not to travel for the fixture. UK citizens returning from red-list countries are required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
UEFA had initially wanted to move the final to the Wembley Stadium in England. However, after deliberations with the UK Government, officials couldn’t agree;on waiving UK’s quarantine rules for the 2,000 staff, sponsors, VIPs and foreign media.
The capacity at the Estadio do Dragao is 50,000 and UEFA says it is;in talks with the Portuguese government to allow 20,000 to attend the final. That, officials say, would mean up to 6,000 tickets for fans of each club.
Portugal is on the UK government’s green list so UK visitors will be;able to travel there from Sunday, 16th May. They will not need to quarantine but will have to take Covid-19 tests before and after they travel.
This will be the third Champions League final in Portugal in eight years but the first in Porto.
Supporters important in decision-making
UEFA, in its statement stressed on the importance of supporters in its decision-making to move the venue for the final.
UEFA noted that “following the UK government’s decision to place Turkey on its red list of Covid-19 travel destinations, staging the final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul would have meant none of the clubs’ domestic fans would be able to travel to the game.
“After a year of fans being locked out of stadiums, UEFA thought that everything needed;to be done to ensure the supporters of the two finalist teams could attend.”
UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin added in a separate statement that he was delighted an arrangement could be made to permit entry of fans.
“Once again, we have turned to our friends in Portugal to help, both UEFA and the Champions League and I am, as always, very grateful to the FPF (Portuguese football federation) and the Portuguese government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice.
“I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured. Fans have had to suffer more than 12 months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League final is the pinnacle of club football. To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found.
“After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don’t have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season.”
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