Ramos critical of holding Champions League final in Kiev

ABS-CBN Sports on May 26, 2018 08:52 AM
Ramos critical of holding Champions League final in Kiev
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos gestures during a press conference at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 25, 2018 ahead of the Champions League final soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool on Saturday May 26. (UEFA Pool via AP)

By JAMES ELLINGWORTH

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos criticized UEFA’s decision to hold the Champions League final in Kiev, as fans continue to struggle with travel problems.

The Ukrainian capital has failed to cope with the influx of fans from around the world ahead of Saturday’s game, with its two airports running out of capacity and hotel prices soaring to astronomical levels.

Around 1,000 Liverpool fans were left stranded when four flights were canceled Thursday due to a lack of landing slots, though another flight was later added, and around the same number of Real fans gave back tickets after being deterred by travel problems.

“To reach some countries sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. I’m sure many fans would have preferred to have the game closer to home to facilitate them,” Ramos said Friday. “This could be taken into consideration when organizing such finals.”

“Those that have come, almost all of them will try to give us all their love.” Ramos added.

Ukraine has looked forward to a big economic and PR boost ever since it was handed the final by UEFA in 2016 without a formal bidding process.

It’s a rare prestige moment for a country whose recent years have been dominated by the conflict with Russia-backed separatists and severe economic problems. It’s also a counterweight to rival Russia’s World Cup, due to start in three weeks.

However, Ukraine’s moment of glory has become mired in controversy.

“It’s disappointing and it’s difficult for them to now get over,” Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson said of the fans left stranded by canceled flights. “I’m disappointed for them if they can’t make it, but hopefully they find an alternative route.”

Other fans have complained of difficulties with travel over land, with lengthy border checks. And two people were left injured Thursday in an apparent hooligan attack by Ukrainian fans against Liverpool supporters.

Next year’s final will be played in Madrid, which beat the Azerbaijani capital Baku in UEFA’s first formal bidding process.

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