The Champions League final will take place in Porto's Estadio do Dragao, UEFA confirmed Thursday, following lengthy talks between European football's governing body, the English Football Association, Portuguese and Turkish authorities over the match between Chelsea and Manchester City.
The 2021 Champions League final had initially been scheduled for Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium but the UK government's decision to place Turkey on its travel red list due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country forced UEFA to move the venue. Talks with the UK government over quarantine waivers prompted an impasse that meant London's Wembley Stadium was unable to host the game.
Portugal offers the twin benefits of allowing supporters back in person and being on the UK's green list, meaning Chelsea and Manchester City fans will be able to attend if they can secure tickets. The Dragao seats 50,035 attendees -- though it is not expected to be at full capacity -- and UEFA has confirmed allocations of 6,000 tickets for each of the two finalists.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured. Fans have had to suffer more than twelve months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League final is the pinnacle of club football. To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found. After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don't have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season.
"We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams.
"The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen.
Istanbul had initially been due to host the 2020 final but the quarterfinals of that competition were also moved to Portugal to form a COVID-secure bubble with Lisbon's Estadio da Luz hosting the final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. The Turkish capital was subsequently handed the 2021 showpiece event and may yet drop back a further year. Saint Petersburg, Munich and London are currently in possession of the finals between 2022 and 2024.
"The Turkish football federation and the Turkish authorities have recognised the UEFA's efforts to give fans of the competing clubs a chance to watch the game," Ceferin added. "The Turkish Football Federation and the authorities have always been reliable partners of UEFA and Turkey has hosted many UEFA events over the years with great success. I hope to be in Istanbul and Turkey for a Champions League final and many other events in the near future.
"I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans who travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football."