The Westminster Chaplain for Sport has branded plans to play both the Champions League and Europa League finals abroad a “disgrace” and has urged UEFA to move them to England amid complaints of profiteering and the huge detrimental impact they will have on the environment.
Both finals of this year’s two European competitions will be contested between English teams, with the Champions League final seeing Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur travel to Madrid, Spain, for their showdown on Saturday 1st June, while Arsenal and Chelsea will travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, to decide the Europa League winners on Wednesday 29th May.
However, the Westminster Chaplain for Sport, Mgr Vladminir Felzmann, has joined calls for both games to be relocated after fans complained about airlines and hotels significantly bumping up prices to coincide with the matches and warnings from environmentalists about the huge carbon footprint it will generate.
“The venues – in terms of the cost in cash and carbon footprint – are a disgrace. A shame,” Mgr Felzmann told The Catholic Universe.
“Back off Baku and Madrid. It would make more sense to have the finals in both these competitions in the national stadium of one of the finalists.
“The toss of a coin or a televised drawing of the country’s name from a jar could decide which one,” added Mgr Felzmann, who is also the CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport.
“It would help to save the planet and the budgets of the less affluent supporters.”
Supporters of Arsenal and Chelsea face an epic journey to watch their sides in the Europa League final.
Only seven miles separates the London teams’ stadiums, but their fans must embark on a 2,500-mile trip to attend the game.
There are only three scheduled flights per week between London and the Azerbaijan capital, but all seats are sold out in the days before and after the match.
Many fans are booking circuitous routes, with trips involving a change of plane at destinations such as Bahrain, Istanbul, Doha available for around £1,300.
Many of these flights last more than 10 hours.
The BBC Reality Check team warned that the total carbon footprint of all the fans travelling to Baku could reach around 15,600 tonnes of CO2.
‘Assuming 12,000 fans use economy class return flights, we’ve tried one carbon calculator that says it’s 5,595 tonnes of CO2, one that says it’s 8,280 tonnes and one that says it’s 13,094 tonnes – 15,600 if you include radiative forcing, which is the extra emissions from flying at high altitude,’ the BBC reported.
Liverpool and Tottenham fans are also being charged sky-high prices to attend the Champions League final, as non-stop scheduled flights from the UK to Madrid have been hiked to more than £1,300 return and barely any hotel rooms in the Spanish capital are available for less than £1,000 on the night of the match.
Saturday 18th May
FA Cup final
Manchester City v Watford
Kick off: 5:00pm
Wednesday 29th May
Europa League final
Chelsea v Arsenal
Kick off: 8:00pm
Saturday 1st June
Champions League final
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Kick off: 8:00pm
Picture: The Europa League Cup. (Uwe Anspach/DPA/PA).