MADRID (AP) — Madrid is eager to host the Champions League final in August amid the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor of the Spanish capital said Tuesday.
José Luis Martínez-Almeida said the city would be prepared to host the final for the second straight year — along with the quarterfinals and semifinals — if UEFA goes ahead with plans to move the game from Istanbul.
“I want to show that there is full support to bring the Champions League final to Madrid,” Martínez-Almeida told 13tv in an interview published on Tuesday. “The right security conditions are in place and we have the infrastructure and public services that would allow us to host it. It would be a message to the world that Madrid never gives up and that it has recovered after everything that we went through.”
However, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press last week that Portugal and Germany are the two most likely contenders as replacement host.
A UEFA executive committee meeting on June 17 is expected to decide the new location for the final that is likely to be played in August. It was originally scheduled to take place in Istanbul on May 30.
Istanbul was picked in 2018 ahead of Lisbon to host the 2020 final. Turkey has yet to be formally ruled out of the hosting. But a reshaped format is set to see the same country also host the quarterfinals and semifinals in August after the main domestic seasons have finished.
Usually only the final is held at a neutral venue, but UEFA shifted planning to use a single country for the last eight in order to complete the competition during the pandemic.
Spain was one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic but has been gradually lifting confinement restrictions as the number of cases and deaths subside. Nearly 28,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the southern European country.
The Spanish league will restart on Thursday, almost three months after it was suspended because of the pandemic. The league has not ruled out allowing fans into stadiums this season, which could strengthen Madrid’s case.
Almeida-Martínez said the league’s return will help show how Spain is prepared to host the Champions League final.
He did not elaborate on what plans are being discussed for Madrid to be considered as a host again.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recently referenced potential “good news” for football in the Iberian nation in August. Two stadiums in Lisbon have been floated — with Benfica hosting the final and Sporting Lisbon’s venue also used.
Madrid hosted last year’s final when Liverpool beat Tottenham at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Spain’s top sports government official, Irene Lozano, said recently that Spain wants to continue leading the way internationally by “safely organizing” major sports events.
AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris contributed to this report.
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