Shocked sports world prepares to respond

A stunned sports world was preparing a response after Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, threatening to stage several events linked to the two countries, which could be moved, starting with the Champions League final in St Petersburg at the end of May.

UEFA, which “resolutely condemns the military invasion”, decided to urgently convene its executive committee on Friday (10:00am).

Its members could be led to disrupt schedules in the coming months and even join the international community in imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Above all is the fate of the Champions League final scheduled for May 28 in St. Petersburg, whose stadium is named after gas giant Gazprom, which has been one of UEFA’s main sponsors since 2012 .

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded: “I don’t know how, in good faith, to stage this (in Russia).”

A source familiar with the matter told AFP that UEFA “has not yet made a decision” at this stage, but that UEFA is “looking at different options” to reschedule the meeting.

– Ukraine has no handball –

If “Sbornaïa” beat Robert Lewandowski’s team, Moscow must also host the 2022 World Cup play-off semi-final between Russia and Poland on March 24, or even the final on March 29.

The Polish FA, the Swedish FA and the Czech FA, who could play in the final in the Russian capital, have asked to play elsewhere outside Russia, which they “do not plan to travel to”.

Fifa, while “concerned” by the “tragic” situation, is holding off before making a decision on the issue.

“It’s an urgent matter, the first game will be played in a month. We hope this situation will be resolved as soon as possible, as soon as possible, we want to believe in it,” said the organization’s boss Gianni Infantino. World Cup.

In addition to the C1 final, the Polish government on Tuesday proposed moving the men’s volleyball world championships, which start in Russia on August 26.

For its part, German club Schalke (D2) has decided to remove the name of its main sponsor Gazprom from its jersey.

Formula 1 world champions Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel also don’t think they will be at the Russian Grand Prix in September.

Basketball and rugby games have been postponed, with Russian clubs sitting on the bench for those games. The Europa League match, scheduled for Thursday or Friday, involving Zenit St Petersburg, CSKA Moscow and UNICS Kazan, has been postponed.

The match of the Six Nations B Championship between Georgia and Russia, scheduled for Sunday in Tbilisi, suffered the same fate.

Playing in Ukraine seems more complicated. The European Handball Federation (EHF) has decided to move or postpone the tournament on Ukrainian soil to the next four weeks.

The outbreak of the conflict led the National Football League to suspend the Ukrainian Championship on Thursday, which was due to resume on Friday after a more than two-month winter break.

– “No War” –

Alarmed by the situation, several foreign players and coaches in Ukraine are caught between wanting to leave the territory and staying loyal to the club.

“The situation is serious, we are stuck in Kiev waiting for a solution to leave. We are in the hotel. Pray for us,” Brazilian forward (Ukrainian passport holder) teenager Moraes posted on Instagram, who was in Shakhtar Donetsk Team kicks the ball.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) “strongly condemns the Russian government” for “violating the Olympic Truce” within seven days of the closing of the Paralympic Games in Beijing (March 4-13) and has set up a working group to closely monitor the situation.

The team must also “coordinate humanitarian aid to members of the Ukrainian Olympic community as much as possible”.

Abroad, some Ukrainian footballers have spoken out, such as Benfica Lisbon striker Roman Yaremchuk or Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.

“Glory to Ukraine,” former world No. 3 tennis player Elina Svitolina wrote on Instagram.

International footballer Fedor Smolov, speaking in a rare Russian voice, wrote “no war” in a short message on Instagram, followed by a Ukrainian flag and a broken heart.

Tennis player Andrei Rublev pleaded for “peace” after his quarter-final win at the Dubai Championships, which “doesn’t matter” given the “terrible” backdrop.

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