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St. Petersburg promises to host best possible Champions League final — official

Initially, the Russian city was scheduled to welcome the final for the 2020-21 season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the schedule was moved forward by a year
Head of the Champions League final organizing committee Alexei Sorokin Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Head of the Champions League final organizing committee Alexei Sorokin
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. St. Petersburg intends to organize and hold the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League final at the highest level possible, head of the Champions League final organizing committee Alexei Sorokin told TASS.

St. Petersburg was picked to host the event in September 2019. Initially, the Russian city was scheduled to welcome the final for the 2020-21 season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the schedule was moved forward by a year. The Champions League final will now be held in St. Petersburg on May 28, 2022.

"We are always striving to organize everything that’s held in our country at the highest level," Sorokin said when asked if the organizers are seeking to put on the best final in the tournament’s history. "Unfortunately, all the latest events are marred by COVID because it is impossible to compare their organization with that for competitions that took place before [the pandemic]. Naturally, we are looking to organize everything as best as we can, why do it otherwise?"

"We and our colleagues in Nyon had joint discussions about the Euro [2020] results and holding the Champions League final. We understand who our counterparts in UEFA are. We discussed everything, including what differences there will approximately be for all sides. We have ambitious tasks, it is a grandiose event," the official noted.

TASS was also told that the Russian side would encourage everyone not to underestimate the match, noting that it will be a four-day celebration that will take St. Petersburg by storm. "There will be something similar to a fan zone called the ‘Festival of Champions’, there will be places for fans to gather, and a giant trophy will be put on display. We still need to decide where these places will be together with the city authorities," Sorokin added.

Fan ID

Sorokin also noted that the organizers would like to see 100% capacity and the coronavirus in decline for the event. "It is highly likely [that foreign fans will be allowed streamlined entry]. The possibility is being discussed that a form of fan identification will be used. We can say that it will be similar to Fan ID. There is no final decision yet, but it is very possible because it is much easier than issuing visas for everyone," he said, adding that "all decisions will be made before the end of 2021."

UEFA visits

The official also mentioned that UEFA would soon send a delegation to St. Petersburg. "UEFA representatives are expected from September 21 to 23 or even 24," he pointed out. "There will be another visit, a more functionally-oriented one. One is big and official, and the other one is of a smaller caliber. It is all likely in September. We are expecting quite a few UEFA representatives <…> around 30." "In total, there will likely be three visits. We will discuss their schedule with colleagues, but I think that the last visit will take place in February, and then our colleagues will travel on a more permanent basis," he added.

Event budget

Sorokin also touched upon the budget for the Champions League final. "I cannot tell you the budget for the final yet. We are now discussing it with the Sports Ministry, these numbers are being finalized. This amount will not be comparable with that of the Euro 2020. It will be much smaller. The budget will definitely be approved this year," the official noted.

Ticket prices

The official also stressed that UEFA sets ticket prices and pointed out that the Russian side has no information about it. "Ticket prices do not depend on us, it is fully within UEFA’s prerogative. Therefore, you should expect information about prices for the final from them. I think that we will soon find out," he added. He also said that tickets are sold using a well-known mechanism that splits fans into four categories: "two clubs, the football family and host country fans."

Opening ceremony

St. Petersburg will also put on an opening ceremony, its concept will be discussed with UEFA. "Of course, each final has an opening ceremony, we will talk about it with UEFA," Sorokin underlined. "There’s no concept just yet, it is too early. Unfortunately, there are still COVID-related restrictions in place." "Euro [2020] had certain restrictions linked to the number of people on the field which directly affects the format of opening ceremonies. It is one thing if you are allowed 500 people on the field and a different one if only 60 can come out. These are two different ceremonies judging by the organization scale," he said.

Champions League final

Russia will host the event for the third time. Moscow welcomed the 1999 UEFA Cup final, where Italy’s Parma outplayed France’s Marseille 3-0. Moscow hosted the Champions League final for the second time in 2008, when Manchester United won by the slightest of margins, beating Chelsea 6-5 on penalties after the match was drawn 1-1. Meanwhile, Kazan is set to receive the UEFA Super Cup final in 2023, which will make it the fourth significant UEFA appearance in the history of Russia.

St. Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena will host the 2021-22 Champions League final. The stadium was opened in 2017 and since then has seen four 2017 Confederation Cup matches, including the final between Germany and Chile (1-0), seven 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, including the third-place match between Belgium and England (2-0) and seven Euro 2020 games, including the quarterfinal between Switzerland and Spain (1-1, 1-3 on penalties).