Champions League: Manchester City-Chelsea final moved from Istanbul to Porto, confirms UEFA

The 29 May showpiece was moved from Istanbul to the 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão due to England imposing tougher pandemic travel restrictions on Turkey that would have prevented fans flying in.

Agence France-Presse May 13, 2021 17:01:25 IST
Champions League: Manchester City-Chelsea final moved from Istanbul to Porto, confirms UEFA

A general view of the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal. AP

Paris: The Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea later this month has been moved from Istanbul to Porto in the hope of allowing English fans to attend, UEFA announced on Thursday.

The match on 29 May has been switched to the Estadio do Dragao. The UK government placed Turkey on a coronavirus travel red list last week.

But a Portuguese government spokeswoman said Portugal is yet to decide on whether or not to allow fans from the UK to travel to the country.

Earlier, European football's governing body announced up to 6,000 supporters from each club will be able to attend.

"We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.

"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."

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

Portugal is one of 12 countries and territories the British government has said people can travel to without having to quarantine on return from 17 May.

But the Portuguese government is still only allowing essential travel to the country from the UK.

"No decision has been taken (about letting English fans attend)," said government spokeswoman Mariana Vieira da Silva after a cabinet meeting.

"On flights from the United Kingdom... there is work ongoing, as soon as a decision is taken, it will be communicated."

Vieira da Silva added that if English fans are able to attend the game, they will have to stay in the country for less than 24 hours, return a negative coronavirus test result before flying, and "not have contact" with Portuguese residents.

'Not possible' to play game at Wembley

Earlier this week, newspaper reports claimed the match would be played at Wembley Stadium.

Chelsea and Man City supporters groups had requested the game be moved to England.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said he would have welcomed the fixture being played in London.

"The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen," Ceferin said.

UEFA said coronavirus rules in the UK made it difficult to hold the fixture in the English capital.

"UEFA discussed moving the match to England but, despite exhaustive efforts on the part of the Football Association and the authorities, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements," it said.

City coach Pep Guardiola said he would have preferred Turkey as the venue for midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, whose grandfather comes from Balikesir, south of Istanbul.

"For Ilkay Gundogan I wanted to go there. Unfortunately, UEFA decided to go to Portugal, but there's no problem there," he said at a press conference.

The final capacity for the match is still to be confirmed, but the Portuguese government spokesperson said 12,000 spectators would be able to attend.

Last season's Champions League matches from the quarter-finals onwards were also held in Portugal, but in Lisbon.

"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 Association) and the Portuguese government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice," Ceferin said.

The last round of matches in the country's top-flight Primeira Liga will see spectators return to stadia on May 19, with a limited number of people permitted, the league said on Wednesday.

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