Albania venue to host ‘maiden’ UEFA showpiece


UEFA Final venues announced Image: M Travel vlog

The Air Albania Stadium in Tirana, Albania, has landed the hosting rights for the inaugural Europa Conference League final to be held in May 2022, while Italy’s Allianz Stadium (in Turin) and San Siro (in Milan) will stage the finals of next year’s Nations League. The Union of European Football Association (UEFA), football’s European governing body, has awarded the hosting rights. It will mark the first time that Albania has hosted a UEFA showpiece.

The 2022 UEFA Europa Conference League Final will be the final match of the 2021-22 UEFA Europa Conference League, the first season of Europe’s tertiary club football tournament organized by UEFA. It will be played on May 25th, 2022, at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana.

Air Albania Stadium, which has a capacity of 22,500, opened in November 2019 when the Albanian national team hosted France.

The Europa Conference League will debut in the 2021-22 seasons and will sit below the Champions League and Europa League as UEFA’s third-tier club competition. A total of 184 teams will be involved over the course of the season, including at least one from each of the 55 UEFA associations, with 46 clubs transferring from the Champions League or Europa League.

The UEFA Europa Conference League colloquially known as UEFA Conference League is a planned annual football club competition, starting in 2021, by UEFA for eligible European football clubs. Clubs will qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.

The group stage will feature 32 teams, 17 of which will have qualified through the Europa Conference League main path and five of which through the champions path. The remaining 10 spots will be taken by teams eliminated in the Europa League play-offs.

The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organized by the UEFA and contested by top-division European clubs, deciding the competition winners through a group and knockout format. The UEFA Europa League is an annual football club competition organized by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.

The winners of the inaugural Europa Conference League final to be held at the Air Albania Stadium will gain a place for the following season’s Europa League if they have not qualified for the Champions League. Meanwhile, UEFA has announced that the finals stage of next year’s Nations League competition will take place at Allianz Stadium in Turin and the San Siro, home of cross-city rivals Inter and AC Milan.

The UEFA Nations League is a biennial international football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the member associations of UEFA, the sport’s European governing body. The competition largely replaces the international friendly matches previously played on the FIFA International Match Calendar.

The two semi-finals fixtures will be held on October 6th-7th, with the third-place match and the final scheduled for October 10th. The inaugural Nations League finals were held in the Portuguese cities of Porto and Guimarães in 2019.

In other news, UEFA has awarded Romania and Georgia co-hosting rights for the 2023 chapter of its European U21 Championship. Four stadiums in Romania (two in Cluj-Napoca and two in Bucharest) and four venues in Georgia (Batumi, Poti and two in Tbilisi) will be used. Romania will host the opening match and Georgia will host the final.

UEFA also announced that it has lifted a ban on Azerbaijan and Armenia that prevented the two countries from hosting fixtures in its competitions. UEFA suspended matches in Armenia and Azerbaijan in October amid rising tensions and fierce war between the neighboring countries.

UEFA has now lifted the ban after a ceasefire was agreed between both countries on November 9th. A 68,000-seat stadium in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku will be one of the host venues during next summer’s rescheduled European Championships.

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