UEFA has confirmed the 2021 Champions League final in Istanbul will go ahead as planned despite Turkey’s rising number of coronavirus cases.
Turkey is preparing to enter its first full lockdown on Thursday, but European football’s governing body is still expecting a “limited number” of fans to attend its showpiece event at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on May 29.
“The Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured that the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 should not have any impact on the match,” UEFA said in a statement.
“UEFA will continue to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely.
“Further information regarding the capacity for the match and ticketing details will be communicated soon.”
It could be an all-English final for the second time in three years; Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 to claim the trophy in Madrid in 2019.
This season, Manchester City beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday and Chelsea drew 1-1 in Spain against Real Madrid on Tuesday, with the return fixtures taking place in England next week.
FIFPro General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann has criticised UEFA’s Champions League reforms as detrimental to players’ health and believes they’re unlikely to provide any additional financial boost.
Europe’s governing body for football approved changes that will see the number of teams competing in the Champions League rise from 32 to 36, while the group stage will be replaced by a single league stage, known as the ‘Swiss model’.
The alterations to the competition will see teams play at least 10 games in the first stage, up from six in the present format, much to the frustration of Baer-Hoffmann as well as players and managers alike.
“We’ve seen this for a number of years, whether it was the Club World Cup, the Nations League or commercial tours ahead of a new season – there is generally little regard for the impact the calendar has on players’ health and their performance,” Jonas Baer-Hoffmann told Sky Sports News.
“The attention to the health has been completely lacking for years – we’ve presented on this to a number of bodies, including UEFA, but we don’t see it trickle down in the decision-making process.
“If players start to get injured or start to miss games that doesn’t help anyone.
“These players want to play but they want to play at the highest level they can and frankly value is not just created by the quantity of matches but the quality of them.”