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Budapest to host UEFA 2026 Champions League final

DUBLIN (AP) — UEFA picked Budapest on Wednesday to host the men’s Champions League final in 2026 and delayed giving the 2027 game to Milan amid uncertainty over the future of San Siro.

The Puskás Arena and San Siro were the only two candidates for the two finals scheduled to be awarded. The next final on June 1 is at Wembley Stadium in London and Bayern Munich’s home will host next year.

The iconic San Siro, formally known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and owned by the city of Milan, has been under long-term threat of demolition. Its shared tenants AC Milan and Inter Milan have looked for new homes they can own.

UEFA put off a decision until a September meeting of its executive committee subject to the Italian football federation “submitting information on refurbishment plans” for San Siro.

Earlier Wednesday, uncertainty increased in Milan as ownership of Inter switched from Chinese corporation Suning to United States investors Oaktree because of failure to repay debts.

The 75,000-seat San Siro still could host the European Cup or Champions League final for the fifth time, one year after staging the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The 70,000-seat Puskás Arena opened five years ago and has been a go-to venue for UEFA, hosting a Europa League final last year and replacement games during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a big fan of football and billionaire banker Sándor Csányi is a FIFA vice president representing UEFA.

UEFA’s executive committee also sent the Women’s Champions League final in 2026 to Oslo, Norway.

Istanbul will host the 2026 Europa League final in the downtown stadium of Besiktas and the 2027 game is going to Eintracht Frankfurt’s home. The 2025 Europa final is in Athletic Bilbao’s stadium, which also hosts the Women’s Champions League final next week.

The third-tier Conference League final in 2026 will also go to Germany, in Leipzig, and in 2027 to Istanbul, potentially also at the Besiktas stadium though that could change.

The Turkish football federation said it hopes the 2027 final can move to the new stadium being built in the capital Ankara ahead of the country co-hosting the men’s European Championship with Italy in 2032.

Turkey gets to host European finals in back-to-back years while the Romanian national stadium in Bucharest, which last hosted a Europa League final in 2012, lost in votes to bring that title match back.

In other UEFA executive committee business ahead of the Europa League final, trials of safe standing areas for fans at European club competition games were extended next season to Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and Scotland.

The UEFA-recognised Football Supporters Europe group has run a “Europe Wants to Stand” campaign and welcomed the new additions to consent for trials over the last two seasons in England, France and Germany. Also on the permitted list are Italy and Spain.

“Standing at matches positively contributes to the atmosphere of games enormously, is a significant element of fan culture across the continent, and helps to lower the pricing for these games generally,” FSE executive director Ronan Evain said in a statement.

The players of Frankfurt and Leipzig leave the pitch after a fire alarm in the video cube during the Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Leipzig at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, May 18, 2024. PHOTO: DPA VIA AP
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