As the Russian army marches towards Kiev, the world of sports – bodies, federations and athletes – is showing its intransigence on the Kremlin, despite the political and financial risks. condemned UEFA “definitely military occupation” Russia’s muscles in Ukraine showed with the support of the French president. Under international pressure, the European body has decided to move the Champions League final scheduled for Friday in Saint Petersburg to the Stade de France. UEFA thanked Emmanuel Macron in its press release. “For his personal support and involvement in ensuring that the most prestigious match in European football is relocated to France in a time of unprecedented crisis”.
Kremlin ruled “shame” Russia’s deprivation of this event and “St. Petersburg could have provided the ideal conditions for holding such a football festival.” For Boris Johnson, playing the Champions League final in Russia was unthinkable. The British Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that nothing had happened. “There is no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that has occupied sovereign countries”. The Union of European Football Associations has also decided that the matches of the Russian and Ukrainian teams (clubs and national selection) cannot be played on their territory for the time being. All matches under UEFA’s jurisdiction will be played on neutral ground. German club Schalke 04 (D2) has decided to remove the name of the Russian gas giant and main sponsor of the club, Gazprom, from their jerseys.
F1, basketball, rugby, ski
The F1 promoter believes the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for September 25 in Sochi, has been cancelled. “It is impossible to organize the Russian Grand Prix in the current conditions”. Formula 1 world champions Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel have already announced their boycott. In other disciplines, several meetings or competitions have been postponed. In basketball, Euroleague matches involving Zénith Saint-Petersburg, CSKA Moscow and Unics Kazan have been postponed.
“We’re not going to Russia next week. I’ve already announced that to my players and staff. It goes beyond sports. Asvel’s chairman, French basketball legend Tony Parker, said: “We cannot accept a situation that is completely against our values. There is no question of sending our team to Russia.” Asvel would face Zenith on March 1. FC Barcelona also refused to travel to Russia to face Zenith on Thursday. In Rugby, the Six Nations B Tournament match between Georgia and Russia, scheduled for Sunday in Tbilisi, was also postponed.
Following the boycott of several athletes, the International Ski Federation announced on Friday that all competitions scheduled to be held in Russia have been canceled until the end of the season. The Polish government has proposed to take action for the Men’s World Volleyball Championship, which will be held in Russia on 26 August.
“Stop the War”
These symbolic decisions taken in response to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine are in addition to numerous condemnations from the sports world. As soon as Vladimir Putin recognized the pro-Russian people’s republics in eastern Ukraine on Monday, Ukrainian professional athletes warned of a possible invasion. Ukrainian football legend Andrei Shevchenko, national team captain Andriy Yarmolenko, tennis player Elina Svitolina-Monfils or Manchester City player Oleksandr Zinchenko reminded Europeans of their commitment to their country. “Pray for Ukraine”.
On Thursday night, one of the most famous of these, Atalanta Bergamo player Ruslan Malinovskyi, celebrated his goal by showing off a T-shirt with a message. “There is no war in Ukraine” (“There is no war in Ukraine”). He then received support from his club and tens of thousands of fans on Twitter.
In another European match on Thursday, FC Barcelona and Napoli players pose behind a banner “Stop the War” Before kick-off (“Stop Battle”). The players of the Czech club Slavia Prague, which has two Ukrainian football players in its squad, entered the field with uniforms in Ukrainian colors and flocked with the slogan. “We are with Ukraine” (“We support Ukraine”).
In the US, it was the Sacramento Kings’ basketball players who held a minute’s silence in solidarity with their Ukrainian teammates, Alex Len, and his people. On the Russian side, one of the only athletes to react is international football player Fedor Smolov. “No war”, In a short Instagram post, she wrote the Ukrainian flag and a broken heart. Andrey Rublev, citizen of the seventh world tennis player, “Peace” After his victory in the quarter-finals of the Dubai tournament.
The International Olympic Committee may impose additional sports sanctions against Russia in the coming days. “Strongly condemns the violation of the Olympic ceasefire”In effect seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games in Beijing (March 4-13), a task force was set up to assess the situation and asked the international federations to cancel events in Russia and Belarus. The fate of UEFA’s juicy sponsorship deal with gas giant Gazprom is still up in the air.