Saturday, July 24, 2021

Third time lucky? Istanbul awarded 2023 Champions League final by UEFA

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 16 Jul 2021

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Istanbul will finally get to stage the Champions League final in 2023, UEFA has announced.

The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Turkey was originally due to put on Europe’s biggest club match in 2020, only for the coronavirus pandemic to mean the closing stages of the tournament were shifted to Lisbon.

The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final were all played in Portugal’s capital, with Istanbul awarded the 2021 final instead.

However, that too was taken away when UEFA moved the match between Chelsea and Manchester City to Porto, this time because Turkey was on the United Kingdom’s travel red list amid the continuing COVID-19 health crisis.

Supporters of the two English clubs would have been unable to make the trip to Istanbul, but restrictions on travel to Portugal were less stringent.

Now UEFA’s executive committee has awarded the 2023 final to Istanbul, in the hope it will get to stage the game in two years’ time. Munich was due to host the game but will instead stage the 2025 final.

UEFA said in a statement: “Following the relocation of the 2021 UEFA Champions League final from Istanbul to Porto, it was decided to award the staging of the 2023 UEFA Champions League final to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

“Furthermore, the European club season kick-off event, which includes the draws for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will take place in Istanbul at the end of August both for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.”

UEFA said that Wembley’s position as host venue for the 2024 final was unaffected.

It also said it had reached “a settlement agreement” with Dublin and Bilbao after both cities were unable to stage Euro 2020 matches, as had been the original plan.

They could not meet UEFA’s requirements on spectator numbers, owing to the COVID-19 situation, but the governing body said it recognised “the efforts and financial investment put by the two cities in preparing for the tournament”.

It said Dublin would now host the 2024 Europa League final and Bilbao would stage both the 2025 Europa League final and the 2024 Women’s Champions League final.

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