The UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City FC and Chelsea FC will be held in Porto, Portugal, on May 29 instead of İstanbul to allow fans to avoid quarantine measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from UEFA on Thursday.
The final was originally scheduled to take place at Atatürk Stadium in İstanbul, but following the UK government’s decision to put Turkey on its red list of COVID-19 travel destinations, staging the final there would have meant none of the clubs’ domestic fans would be able to travel to the game. After a year of fans being locked out of stadiums, UEFA thought that everything needed to be done to ensure that the supporters of the two teams could attend, UEFA said in its statement.
UEFA said it discussed moving the match to England but, despite exhaustive efforts on the part of the Football Association and the authorities, it was not possible to obtain the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements.
“The decision does not come without big regret for the work that the Turkish football authorities have done over the last two years to ensure the successful staging of the final in İstanbul,” said UEFA.
Portugal is a “green list” destination for England, meaning fans and players will not have to quarantine on their return home.
Turkey, which reported 11,534 coronavirus cases on May 13, is currently on its strictest lockdown since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country in March 2020.
The lockdown was imposed on April 29 after the country saw a soaring number of coronavirus infections, averaging around 60,000 a day during the peak week of April.
The lockdown will end on May 17.