In football, it has been proposed that a match between the Republic of Ireland and Ukraine should be played in a neutral venue. The football governing body, UEFA, has made significant scheduling changes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country.
Contingency plans had been drawn up to change venue holding the Champions League final, with Russian city St Petersburg the original destination. The game, due to take place on May 28th, has now been scheduled to play at the French national stadium, Stade de France. It also states home games of Ukrainian and Russian football entities competing in UEFA competitions will be played at neutral venues “until further notice.”
A statement read: “The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 21:00 CET.
“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.
The Republic of Ireland team will still come up against Ukraine in the Nations League on June 14th. However, escalating tensions in Ukraine have led FAI to propose welcoming Ukraine to Aviva Stadium for their opening group fixture on June 4th. FAI has been in dialogue with the Irish government, UEFA, and the Ukraine Association of Football in the aftermath of Russia invading their neighbouring country overnight.
The statement continues: “At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.
“The UEFA Executive Committee further determined to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required, to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary.”
Similar circumstances in the recent past have seen the national team play at a neutral venue when UEFA insisted in 2008. The Republic of Ireland faced Georgia in the German city of Mainz, while ongoing conflict between Georgia and Russia continued.