As Russia begins what it calls ‘special military operations’ in Ukraine, much of the world is decrying the action as an unprovoked invasion. In an ‘extraordinary’ meeting, UEFA is deciding to move this year’s Champions League Final away from St. Petersburg in response to the violence, according to Rob Harris via the Associated Press.
One of the alternative suggestions for stadiums is La Cartuja in Seville, a stadium which has seen Nations League, EURO 2020, and World Cup Qualifying matches played there and is the current site of the Copa Del Rey. Villarreal has played at La Cartuja once, in 2007 against Real Betis, in a match that ended in a 3-3 draw.
It is surreal to see what is going on in the Ukraine, as Villarreal traveled there just last year to play Dynamo Kyiv. That match was played in the NSC Olimpiyskiy and Villarreal won 2-0.
Moving a football match out of Russia is just one of many economic sanctions heading Russia’s way in response to the acts of their leadership and military. It is strange to even talk about football in the midst of such destruction, but talking about football is always a good way to remind ourselves of the ordinary people caught up in the midst of a violent geopolitical nightmare. I am reminded of Simon Kuper’s book Ajax, The Dutch, the War, which details life under Nazi occupation during World War II in which football was merely the backdrop for how people’s lives played out under tyrannical rule.
Above all else we hope for safety and peace. Every life that is lost in violence like this is a tragedy, and the vast majority of people enduring this trial or ordinary folks like you and I. Those in Ukraine who see their own homes threatened as well as their lives are particularly in our thoughts, and we hope and pray this comes to a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.