UEFA insisted Friday that the Champions League final will be played in Istanbul, hitting back at a newspaper report that claims the European football body has explored Lisbon as a standby option if there is turmoil in Turkey after this weekend’s elections.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in a close race to extend his 20-year grip on power. He is seeking a third term in Sunday’s election.
The Daily Mail in London claimed UEFA made an “informal approach” to the Portuguese football federation in case any post-election unrest put Istanbul in doubt to host the final on June 10.
“UEFA has no discussions to the contrary with any political institutions, governments or national football associations,” the body said in a statement responding to what it called “some inaccurate and unfounded media reports.”
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul was scheduled to host the final in both 2020 and 2021 until health rules during the coronavirus pandemic made it impractical. The Portuguese football federation and the government stepped in both times. Lisbon staged a delayed eight-team mini-tournament, including the final with no fans, in August 2020.
In May 2021, Porto staged an all-English final with only 14,000 people able to attend Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City.
Man City could be back in the final this season. The English champions host Real Madrid on Wednesday in the second leg of the semifinals after a 1-1 draw in Spain. Inter Milan leads AC Milan 2-0 ahead of their second leg on Tuesday.
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