UEFA finalizing plans to move Champions League final to Portugal

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, left, and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Saturday, May 8, 2021.(Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP)

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 Estadio 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 was 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.

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.

Playing the game with fans and sponsor guests is crucial for UEFA after having to play 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.

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