Ukraine a 'special place' for Real skipper Ramos

Kiev (AFP) –


Kiev has attracted a wave of negative publicity due to the problems faced by supporters wanting to get there for Saturday's Champions League final, but Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insists it will always have a place in his heart.

Fans of Madrid and Liverpool have had their plans for attending the game thrown into turmoil, with some hotels cancelling previously-made bookings to put the same rooms up for sale at exorbitant rates.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin confirmed that 1,000 Real supporters had handed back their tickets because it had become too expensive to get to the Ukrainian capital.

But Ramos is returning to the city, and to the same Olympic Stadium, where he won the Euro 2012 final with Spain against Italy.

"The truth is that Ukraine is a special place for me and brings back great memories," he told media on Friday ahead of the game.

"With Spain we became European champions in this city and this country. It is always gratifying to return to such a place."

Both teams had been given an initial allocation of around 17,000 tickets for the game, with Real hoping to win the Champions League for the third year in succession.

"It is true that due to the distance and the cost a lot of Spaniards have not been able to come, but we must not disregard countries that are harder to get to," Ramos added.

Since co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland, Ukraine has seen Russia annex the Crimean peninsula, while Russian-backed rebels seized two eastern industrial regions.

And in 2014, president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia after the pro-European Maidan revolution.

"Some might have been thankful if it were somewhere closer that would make it easier to get to for those who don't have the salary to pay for a ticket, a flight, or a hotel room," Ramos said.

"But if this helps Ukraine bounce back as a country that would be great."