UEFA have reportedly held talks about moving the Champions League final 2500 miles away from Istanbul with less than a month to go until it is played.
And the return legs will take place next week to determine who will battle it out for the Champions League trophy at the Ataturk Stadium on June 10 in the final.
That is in case there “is unrest in Istanbul following the presidential Turkish election” later this month.
There are growing concerns that there could be civil disturbances if president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-decade reign ends.
Uefa “would be extremely reluctant to switch the final” as it has already been moved from Istanbul due to Covid in 2020 and 2021.
However, they “may be forced to consider a late change as the safety of fans is their primary concern” for the biggest club football match on the planet.
The report states that they “have learned that an informal approach has been made to the Portuguese Football Federation, who have previously stepped in with Lisbon and Porto staging the final in 2020 and 2021” to stage this season’s.
Erdogan was trailing rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu by five per cent in a recent poll ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting.
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Now analysts have claimed that the three-horse race for leadership may now go down to “a run-off between the pair” which would be held on 28 May.
The Champions League final is set to take place less than two weeks later.
And that means that Uefa could be forced into making a decision late.
However, the Mail also states that “sources at the governing body insisted on Thursday that there was no plan to move the game from Turkey”.
If the game is moved it would be the third year running that such a decision has been taken.
In 2021, Uefa moved the final between Chelsea and Man City from Istanbul to Porto after the UK government placed Turkey on its red list, requiring a ten-day stay in hotel quarantine for all travellers returning from the country.
That decision was taken so late that the ball for the final still said ‘Istanbul 2021’ on it.
And in 2022, the final was moved from St Petersburg to Paris due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Uefa insist the final will go ahead as planned.
They said in a statement: “The 2023 Uefa Champions League final will take place in Istanbul as scheduled, on 10 June 2023.
“Uefa has no discussions to the contrary with any political institutions, governments or national football associations.”