Cancelled matches and unpopular Russian athletes

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Refusing to face Russia, athletes declared persona non grata, games diverted or cancelled… Since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, steps have been taken by several international federations: football, Formula 1 , volleyball, biathlon, tennis, skiing. Even the International Olympic Committee is involved.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already had serious consequences for professional sports: starting from the famous Champions League final, Poland and Sweden refused to face Russia and athletes were declared persona non grata.

  • St Petersburg missed out on Champions League

Four years after the World Cup, St Petersburg is preparing to return to the fans’ sight. But UEFA soon announced that it would move the Champions League final, the pinnacle of European club football, to Paris. Another theme for UEFA: its partnership with Gazprom, which will be reviewed by its executive committee next week, appears to be under threat. The contract is estimated at 40 million euros per year.

>> ALSO READ: “Champions League: Final move from St Petersburg to Stade de France”

  • 2022 Sochi Russian Grand Prix cancelled

Sochi is a symbol of Russian sports “soft power”. The host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, it has been hosting the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix since the same year. But that won’t be the case this season, as the race’s promoter, Formula 1, canceled its grip seven months before it was held.

American team Haas has questioned its partnership with Russian sponsor Uralkali for not showing Russian colours on its single-seater. The F1 future of Nikita Mazepin, the son of the Uralkali leader who will drive one of two single-seaters, appears to be in doubt.

  • Rejection by Poland and Sweden

FIFA has yet to abandon matches scheduled in Russia. But it was overtaken by Poland, much to the satisfaction of its star Robert Lewandowski: the latter refused to face Russia at the 2022 World Cup in Moscow on March 24. In the next match, the Russians’ potential opponent, the Swedes, also announced that they would not face the Russians.

>> ALSO READ: “Football: Yaroslav Rakitsky, banned from Ukraine for joining Russian club”

  • The Premier League and its Russian acquaintances

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted that the situation of London club owner Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has “disturbed” his team. If the billionaire is not the target of sanctions that London has decided against Russian interests, his case has already been mentioned in parliament and in the media.

Chelsea are not the only clubs linked to Russia. Manchester United announced on Friday that it had “revoked” a sponsorship deal with Aeroflot, which was banned from British airspace. The contract was signed in 2013. In Germany, D2 club Schalke 04 removed the Gazprom logo and name from its jersey.

  • IOC’s condemnation

The International Olympic Committee, usually reluctant to comment on geopolitics, has urged international sports federations to cancel or relocate any events planned in Russia or Belarus. He also asked that the flags of the two countries not be hoisted and their national anthems not played, given that the Olympic Truce, which is due to expire a week after the Paralympics (March 4-13), has been violated.

Following the call, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that “for the safety of all participants” it was canceling all its competitions in Russia until the end of the season. Without waiting for the news, Norway and Sweden, the top medal winners at the Beijing Winter Olympics, warned anyway that they would not send skiers to these events.

  • Biathlon bans national anthems and flags

Also at the call of the International Olympic Committee, the International Biathlon Confederation (IBU) decided on Saturday to ban the national anthems and flags of Russia and Belarus during World Cup matches. On the other hand, although the Ukrainian biathlon team has informed the IBU that it will not participate in any of the remaining World Cup competitions, “the Ukrainian flag will be raised at the event in honor of the Ukrainian team”, Instance explained.

  • Russian Volleyball World Championships

The World Volleyball Championships in Russia, scheduled for Aug. 26 to Sept. 11, have not been shaken, but appear to be under great threat. “Thank you without me,” tweeted French world volleyball star Earvin Ngapeth. Russia, a great country in the sport, also lost the women’s group stage of the International League in Ufa from June 28 to July 3 and the men’s group stage in Kemerovo from July 5 to 10 .

The International Tennis Federation has cancelled all events in Russia indefinitely.

  • Russians and Belarusians are not welcome

The Swedish government on Saturday called for the complete exclusion of Russia from all sporting competitions in EU countries. The Norwegian and Swedish ski federations have indicated that Russian athletes do not welcome events in their respective countries next month.

Home Secretary Priti Patel also warned that an invasion of Ukraine by “national teams from complicit countries” would no longer be welcome in the UK. In fact, the visa of the Belarusian basketball player who was due to play at Newcastle on Sunday has been cancelled.

  • Relocated Russian basketball player

In addition to games directly involving them, the Russian clubs allied in the Europa League (St. Petersburg, Kazan and CSKA Moscow) will have to play their Europa League home games abroad. The same goes for European club football.

with AFP


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