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Barcelona & Napoli Promote "STOP WAR" Banner As UEFA Prepares To Strip Russia Of UCL Final

Players from Barcelona and Napoli united in support of an anti-war message ahead of their Europa League game in Italy on Thursday.

All 22 starters from the match posed for a pre-match photograph as they stood behind a large banner which read: "STOP WAR".

It was a response to Russian president Vladimir Putin instructing his troops to attack Ukraine, before blasts were reported in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv.

Putin's actions and his threats of further aggression, prompted UEFA to post a strongly worded statement on Thursday morning.

It read: "UEFA shares the international community's significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine.

"As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.

"We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow."

Players of Napoli and Barcelona stand behind a banner which reads: "STOP WAR"

All 22 players who started Thursday's match between Napoli and Barcelona stood united behind a "STOP WAR" banner

According to Sky Sports, UEFA will confirm during Friday's meeting that Russia will be stripped of the right to host this year's Champions League final.

The final had been due to take place at St Petersburg's 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena on May 28.

Also known as Krestovsky Stadium, the Gazprom Arena hosted seven matches at the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was asked on Thursday whether he had any regrets over staging that World Cup in Russia.

Infantino responded, as quoted by BT Sport: "FIFA expresses hope for a rapid cessation of hostilities and for peace in Ukraine. FIFA condemns as well the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts.

"Violence is never a solution and therefore we call on all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue. And of course FIFA continues to express our solidarity to the people affected by this conflict."