The world of sports is distancing itself from Russia

Insider – Sports

The world of sports is distancing itself from Russia, abandoning sponsorships, refusing to play matches, and canceling events

Barnaby Lane – February 25, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
Vladimir Putin. 
  • Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
  • Sports teams and organizations across the globe are now distancing themselves from the country.
  • The Russian Grand Prix has been canceled, while Russia has also been stripped of the Champions League final.

World sport is distancing itself from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military assault in Ukraine Thursday, with attacks having since been reported in the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Odesa.

According to The Times of England, at least 57 Ukrainians died on the first day of the invasion.

With world leaders condemning Russia and Putin, sports teams and organizations, as well as athletes, from across the globe are now moving to separate themselves from the country and its leader. 

The Champions League final has been moved from St. Petersburg to Paris.
The Champions League Trophy stands on display during the UEFA Champions League football group stage draw ceremony in Monaco
The 2022 Champions League final was set to be held in St. Petersburg. 

European soccer’s showpiece game was set to be held at the Gazprom Arena in Russia’s second city, St. Petersburg, on May 28.

On Friday, however, UEFA confirmed Russia had been stripped of the event and that it will instead take place at the Stade de France in Paris.

UEFA said in a statement that the game being moved comes after “the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.”

UEFA also said that all Russian and Ukrainian teams playing in European competition will have to do so at neutral venues in the coming months.

F1’s Russian Grand Prix has been cancelled.
Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and the rest of the field at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia
Last year’s Russian Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton. 

Set to take place in Sochi in September, Formula One confirmed on Friday that the race had been cancelled as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The statement came after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said he would not attend the race if it went ahead.

“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together,” F1 said.

“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.

“On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”

A German soccer club removed a Russian oil giant from its shirts.
Schalke 04 logo, Gazprom logo
Schalke 04 has removed sponsor Gazprom from its shirts. 

Gazprom has been the main shirt sponsor of Schalke 04 since 2007. On Thursday, the Bundesliga club changed that.

“In view of the events, development and escalation of the past few days, FC Schalke 04 has decided to remove the lettering of its main sponsor – “GAZPROM” – from the jerseys,” a club statement read. 

“Instead, ‘Schalke 04’ will be on the chest of the Royal Blues.”

While Formula One team Haas made a similar move.
A composite image of the Haas F1 team's car before and after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
A composite image of the Haas F1 team’s car before and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Haas opted to remove Russian sponsor Uralkali’s logo from its car during the final day of testing in Barcelona on Friday as it continued its preparations for the new season. The car’s livery also included a front wing in the colors of the Russian flag, which has also been changed.

“Haas F1 Team will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, minus Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of track running at Circuit de Barcelona on Friday,” the team said in a statement, per Sportsmail.

“No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements.”

Haas finds itself in a tough spot as Uralkali is its largest sponsor, and one of its drivers, Nikita Mazepin, is the son of a Putin-linked oligarch.

Soccer giant Manchester United has also ditched a Russian sponsor.
A general view of a corner flag at Old Trafford before the FA Youth Cup match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on February 09, 2022 in Manchester, England
Manchester United’s association with Aeroflot is no longer. 

Kieren Maguire, a soccer finance lecturer at the University of Liverpool, reported Thursday that Manchester United was to terminate its sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot.

The ATP Tour cancelled a competition in Moscow.
A shadow of a camera operator and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia is seen on Ken Rosewall Arena during day two of the Sydney International at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre
The ATP Tour cancelled a challenger tournament in Moscow set for next week. 

“Due to concerns over player safety and uncertainty related to international travel following the recent escalation of events between Russia and Ukraine, next week’s ATP Challenger tournament in Moscow will not take place as scheduled,” the ATP said in a statement Friday.

The Kremlin Cup, set to take place in Moscow in October, is yet to be removed from the calendar.

Skiing and basketball events in Russia have been stopped.
Nino Tsiklauri of Georgia in the 1st heat of the women's Slalom alpine skiing event during the Pyeongchang 2018 winter olympics in Yongpyong, South Korea
Nino Tsiklauri of Team Georgia. 

On Friday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) decided to cancel all of its remaining 2021/2022 FIS World Cup stages which are set to be hosted in Russia.

“In the interest of the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup, that all remaining World Cup events scheduled to take place in Russia between now and the end of the 2021-22 season will be cancelled or moved to another location,” a statement said.

In basketball, Barcelona said its team would not fly to Russia for two games against Russian teams Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow on Saturday and Monday in the Euroleague.

Several European soccer federations also said that they won’t play games in Russia.

Russia is due to host Poland in a World Cup qualifying playoff game on March 24. Should Russia win that fixture it would play Sweden or the Czech Republic in the next round.

All three nations have said they will not play in Russia.

“The signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there,” the three countries said in a joint statement addressed to FIFA’s General Secretary.

“The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations.”

And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has condemned Russia.
Thomas Bach, IOC President, who chairs the press conference regarding the Coronavirus in relation to the working group that has been set up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to make them safer at Olympic house
IOC President Thomas Bach. 

With the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games starting on March 4, the IOC hit out at Russia for breaching the Olympic Truce.

The Olympic Truce is a tradition dating back to ancient Greece in which calls for the “​​cessation of hostilities” between Olympic countries seven days before and after the games to “promote peace” and ensure athletes’ safe passage in-and-out of their countries.

The truce is non-binding, meaning Russia won’t face any consequences from the IOC.

“The IOC is deeply concerned about the safety of the Olympic Community in Ukraine,” the organization said in a statement.

“It has established a task force to closely monitor the situation and to coordinate humanitarian assistance to members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine where possible.”

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) added that it was “in dialogue” with the Ukrainian and Russian Paralympic Committees amid the ongoing crisis.


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Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.