Doubts over Istanbul’s hosting of Champions League final due to UK travel restrictions

Istanbul’s hosting of the all-English Champions League final has been thrown into huge doubt after Turkey was placed on the UK government’s coronavirus red list just three weeks from the big game.

UEFA are said to be considering their options regarding the Turkish city’s hosting of the the showpiece fixture as a result of today’s development.

UK citizens returning from red list countries are required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

British authorities announced that Turkey had joined the list of high-risk countries at a briefing on this evening.

Manchester City are due to meet Chelsea in the decider on 29 May in the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

Speaking at a press conference, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Red countries are those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances, where repeated testing and isolation in designated government hotels on return is compulsory.

“Non-UK residents who have been in a red country in the last 10 days will still be barred from entering the UK.

The final is scheduled to take place at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium which previously hosted the event in 2005.

“I must tell you that now due to concerns about Covid rates and variants of concern, Turkey, the Maldives, Nepal must regrettably be added to the red list.”

Shapps added fans should not travel and confirmed the Football Association has approach UEFA over whether the match could be moved to England.

Shapps said: “I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list. This will have a number of ramifications. First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

“The FA are in discussions with UEFA on this. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA.

“Of course the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well placed to do it.

“We are very open to it but it is in the end a decision for UEFA to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to what they have to say.”

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