UEFA is finalizing plans with Portugal to act as replacement host for the all-English Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.
The UEFA showpiece is set to be moved from Istanbul to Portugal just like last year due to pandemic issues in Turkey, people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
The 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão in Porto has been lined up as the venue for the May 29 final after talks with the British government stalled on Monday to use Wembley Stadium.
UEFA has been unable to secure the quarantine exemptions required for media and guests to be able to fly into London for the climax of its biggest competition, despite the government talking up trying to bring the game to Wembley.
While it would have been more ideal for the thousands of English fans to play the game on home soil, Portugal is at least joining England’s “green list” of 12 low-risk territories where people aren’t required to quarantine upon their return from next Monday. Portugal will also have to lift its current block on tourists from Britain to allow an influx of fans, and guarantee UEFA can secure entry for the personnel required.
Playing the game with fans and sponsor guests is crucial for UEFA after having to stage last season’s final in Lisbon, which Bayern Munich won, without spectators being allowed due to Portugal’s coronavirus restrictions that are now being eased.
It was Turkey being added to England’s “red list” of countries with severe coronavirus outbreaks that complicated playing the final in Istanbul. Fans would have been unable to leave England to travel to the game and most people returning would have been required to enter 10 days of mandatory hotel isolation.
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