Whoever wins the Champions League semifinals this week, their fans will face a logistical nightmare possibly unlike anything they’ve ever seen before if they want to attend the final in Moscow. Martin Samuel of the Times sums it up well. Again, how is it UEFA could’ve approved this? It boggles the mind. This is one of the great disgraces of modern soccer that they are treating their supporters this way.
Those familiar with the city and not isolated from its shortcomings by money already know it as the rip-off capital of the world; those who did not will be aware if they have tried to book a hotel in the past fortnight.
A guy told me he was quoted £5,000 ($9,863) for a three-night stay at an ordinary chain hotel last week. Flights are through the roof. The in-and-out day trips organised by the clubs are coming in at close to £1,000, including ticket, and nearer to £1,200 for an overnight stay, while independent itineraries avoiding expensive flights often involve 15-hour internal train journeys and two days of travelling each way.
And all this would have been known by Uefa in advance. There is nothing about the unsuitability of Moscow as host city that would cause a raised eyebrow among anyone who travels or has an ounce of intelligence. The city has only 35,000 hotel rooms and a cost-of-living survey has rated it the most expensive in the world two years running.
The guys I spoke to had followed Manchester United all over the world, but many were having serious doubts about this one. It comes to something when even the loyalists are thinking of watching it on the box. “In all that we do we care about football,” Uefa’s mission statement says. No, it doesn’t. If it did, the retreat from Moscow would have been sounded long ago.