Champions League, skiing, F1… The sports world sanctions Russia after the invasion in Ukraine

The sports world launched this Friday, February 25, a second round of sanctions against Russia, after the military intervention in Ukraine, withdrawing the organization of the prestigious Football Champions League final from Saint Petersburg, relocated to France, and canceling the Sochi F1 Grand Prix scheduled for September. The ski competitions which were to take place on Russian soil have been canceled while the English football club Manchester United has revoked its contract with Aeroflot, the Russian airline which sponsored it until then.

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Meeting urgently in the executive committee by videoconference in Nyon (Switzerland), UEFA has recorded the relocation of the Champions League final, initially scheduled for Saint Petersburg on May 28. The final of the biggest continental club competition will finally be played at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has “greeted” the “mobilization of UEFA […] to contribute to solidarity actions towards Ukrainian athletes and citizens and to be coordinated with the actions of the European Union” against Russia, explained the Elysée. The Kremlin reacted immediately to this announcement by UEFA, judging ” shame “ that Russia be deprived of this test, ensuring that “St. Petersburg could have provided the ideal conditions for holding such a football festival”.

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Matches on neutral ground

UEFA, which had “strongly condemned the Russian military invasion” from Thursday also decided that international home matches of clubs or national teams of Ukraine and Russia will be held on neutral ground ” until further notice “in front of “the worsening of the security situation in Europe”.

Thus, Spartak Moscow, engaged in the knockout stages of the Europa League and the only Russian or Ukrainian team still in contention in the European Cup, will not be able to host its matches in Russia in the event. Another meeting affected by this measure, the qualifying match of Euro-Espoirs, Ukraine-France, scheduled for Tuesday March 29, which will have to be relocated to neutral ground.

On the other hand, UEFA’s decisions do not concern the dam for the 2022 World Cup between Russia and Poland scheduled for March 24 in Moscow, which depends on Fifa. The Polish federation, together with those of Sweden and the Czech Republic who may also have to face the Russians on March 29, have already warned that they do not wish to travel to Russia. But Fifa has not yet taken action, content to say to itself “preoccupied” faced with a situation “tragic and disturbing”by the voice of its president Gianni Infantino.

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Sponsorship contracts revoked

UEFA, one of the major sponsors of which is the giant Gazprom, did not mention anything about the agreement with the Russian group, reputed to be close to the Kremlin. The German club Schalke (D2), also linked to Gazprom, on the other hand decided on Thursday to remove the name from its shirts.

The English club Manchester United announced for its part this Friday that it had “revoked” its sponsorship contract with the Russian airline Aeroflot. “In light of the events in Ukraine, we have withdrawn Aeroflot’s sponsorship rights”United said in a statement. “We share the concerns of our fans around the world and send all our thoughts to those affected”, Manchester United continued. Aeroflot had been the official sponsor of the Mancunian club since 2013.

Atalanta Bergamo’s Ukrainian international striker Ruslan Malinovskyi wore a t-shirt on Thursday after a goal with the message in English: “No war in Ukraine”.

No F1 or skiing in Russia

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The Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled for September 25 in Sochi, was also canceled seven months before it was held, with F1 promoter Formula One saying it was “impossible to organize the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances”. The situation blurs the future of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, whose team, Haas, is mainly sponsored by Uralkali, a Russian group specializing in potash.

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The International Ski Federation has finally canceled, this Friday, all the competitions planned in Russia by the end of winter.

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