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British government’s calls for Russia to lose Champions League final ‘rushing things’ – politician

British prime minister Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Liz Truss have both said that the 2022 final should not be held in St. Petersburg

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s assertion that it would be “wrong” to hold the 2022 Champions League final in St. Petersburg is a misguided politicization of sport, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports in Russia’s State Duma has suggested.

Truss echoed UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s views by calling for organizers UEFA to switch the venue for the May showpiece, adding that players should boycott a potential game in St. Petersburg because of an operation that was announced by Russian president Vladimir Putin in Donbass.

Numerous reports have suggested that UEFA is considering moving the match to another country.

“It seems to me that [Truss] is rushing things a bit,” said Sergei Burlakov, speaking to RIA about remarks made by Truss on a day when she also took to Twitter to threaten “severe sanctions” against Russia.

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“As far as I know, English clubs are not yet in the Champions League final. In addition, many [players] of English football clubs are not British citizens.

“Finally, sport is out of politics. If all political decisions are reflected by the athletes, then soon sports competitions will no longer be of interest to fans around the world.”

The marquee game in European club football is due to take place at the Gazprom Arena, which has previously hosted seven matches during the 2018 World Cup and seven games during EURO 2020, on May 28.

“I think it is wrong at this stage, with what Russia is doing internationally, to have the final there,” Truss told the BBC.

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When asked whether potential finalists including Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea should boycott the game, she said: “That’s a matter for the team but if I was a player, which is a very unlikely eventuality, I certainly wouldn’t want to be part of that.”

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Johnson declared that Russia had “no chance of holding football tournaments” while the operation was ongoing, calling it “inconceivable” that major football events could be held in the country.

Burlakov referenced the values of the Olympic Charter and the “struggle for peace”, saying: “Russia wants the residents of the [Donetsk Republic and Lugansk Republic] to watch the Champions League final not under fire, so we stood up for the fraternal people.

“But what Liz Truss wants, calling for a boycott of the final in St. Petersburg – she did not explain.”

UEFA says it is “closely monitoring the situation” between Russia and Ukraine.

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