The world of sports facing the unknown


See our full dossier on the Russian occupation of Ukraine

After a pandemic, a war. For the second time in two years, the planet of sports will be upended by an international crisis, which will again turn its calendar upside down.

Late Wednesday, Quebec time, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is forcing both sports federations and athletes to make important decisions, even if they are sometimes sensitive on the political and financial levels.

• Also read: LIVE | Second day of war in Ukraine

Because in the context of this war, is it acceptable for these big institutions to compete with the combatants for championships? No, it has already decided UEFA, which will organize the final of Champions League football on 28 May in Saint Petersburg.

According to Sky Sports, UEFA will meet urgently this morning to find a new venue for the final match, which is watched by millions of football fans worldwide. The venue chosen must be Wembley Stadium, London.

This decision should deprive Russia of approximately $100 million in economic benefits.

But it is not free for UEFA either. The match was to be played at the Gazprom Stadium. Gas company is one of the biggest sponsors of the European circuit and some of its teams, including German club FC Shalke 04, which has had its logo removed from their jerseys.

UEFA must also decide what to do with its partnership with this Russian company specializing in the extraction, processing and transport of natural gas.

As of Thursday, other organizations such as the International Automobile Federation or the WTA, which governs women’s tennis, had yet to decide whether to cancel their planned events in Russia this fall.

However, German driver Sebastian Vettel has decided that he will not go to Sochi to compete in Russia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix.

In tennis, the Kremlin Cup hosts men and women in Moscow every year in October. The event is not yet on the women’s calendar and was not removed on Thursday by the men’s either.

Listen to Jean-François Baril’s column on QUB radio:

However, the ATP has canceled the holding of the Challenger circuit tournament, which will begin in the Russian capital on Monday.

The International Ski Federation continues the Jumping World Cups for now. Three events are planned in Russia in the coming weeks. No Canadian athletes are registered.

In Russia’s biggest hockey league, the KHL, Helsinki’s Jokerit has decided to withdraw from the playoffs, which will begin next week, Finnish MTV reported on Thursday.

The March 24 football match between Poland and Russia, which is part of the next World Cup qualifying process, will likely be postponed.

Visitors refuse to go to Moscow. The same goes for Sweden and the Czech Republic, who will face the winner of this meeting five days later. The football federations of the three countries signed a letter addressed to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

The signatories do not want to go to Russia and play matches there. “The military tension we are observing could have serious consequences and reduce the security of our national teams,” it said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has condemned Russia’s violation of the Olympic truce, which will end on March 13 at the end of the Paralympic Games.

“Following the recent events, the IOC is expressing its deep concern for the safety of the Olympic community in Ukraine,” said President Thomas Bach, nearly two weeks after President Thomas Bach called on Russian governments and Ukraine to “give peace a chance.”

Some are also worried about the holding of the Paralympic Games, which will start on March 4 in Beijing. Will Russian and Ukrainian athletes be there? So what about international flights in this context?

Of course, the occupation of Russia was also reflected in the Ukrainian national championships. Football matches were suspended for a month because it was impossible to play in a war environment.

But in these tragic conditions, the sport is clearly becoming futile. If not athletes, who can use their fame to get their message across.

A few hours before the first bombings, Ukrainian football player Roman Yaremchuk celebrated a goal by displaying a black jersey in the Champions League, where we can see a symbol of support for his country.

The Benfica Lisbon color bearer was fined for this move, but was defended by his club.

“I wanted to support my country. I’ve thought a lot about this and I’m afraid of it. “The club supports me, they talked to me and wanted to do anything to help me,” he said.


Photo: AFP

“I am proud to be Ukrainian. We are together in this extremely difficult time for the sake of peace and the future of our state. Victory to Ukraine. »

Elina Svitolinatennis player on Twitter


Photo: AFP

“Ukraine is my homeland! I have always been proud of my people and my country. We have been through many difficult times and have shaped ourselves as a nation over the past 30 years. A nation of sincere, hardworking, freedom-loving citizens. This is our most important asset! »

Andriy Shevchenkoformer football player on Twitter


Photo: AFP

“Dear Ukrainians! Dear Kievans! What Russia did is a great tragedy. This tragedy is not only for Ukraine. This is a tragedy for all of Europe. But I believe we will survive. We will stand up and show our strength and courage. »

Vitali Klitschkoformer boxer and current mayor of Kiev in a video with his brother Wladimir


Upcoming international sporting events in Russia

International Ski Federation Free Jump World Cups (Freestyle Skiing)


Yaroslavl, 26 and 27 February

Gornaya Salanga, 2 and 3 March

Moscow, March 5

* No Canadian athletes participate in these competitions.

FIFA World Cup qualification (soccer)


Moscow, 24 and 29 March

* Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic refuse to travel to Russia.

UEFA Champions League Final (football)


Saint Petersburg, 28 May

* There will be a meeting between UEFA leaders on Friday to find a new seat.

International Automobile Federation Sochi Grand Prix (Formula 1)


Sochi, September 23-25

* German Sebastian Vettel said he didn’t want to go to the competition “in a country at war”.

Kremlin Cup and WTA and ATP (Tennis)


Moscow, early October

* The tournament is not yet on the WTA calendar, but is usually held in October. No decision has been made yet.

Sources:, The Team

Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals match played in Dubai last weekend.

Photo: AFP

Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals match played in Dubai last weekend.

Andrey Rublev is a Russian, but he openly takes a stand against the invasion of Ukraine by his country. After winning his match at the Dubai tennis tournament on Thursday, the world’s seventh player pleaded for peace.

“Now we understand how important peace is in the world, that we must respect each other and be united. We must take good care of our world and others. This is the most important thing,” said Rublev.

He had just qualified for the semi-finals, but the 24-year-old Muscovite could not enjoy his victory. He felt “uncomfortable” on the field.

In particular, he won the doubles title with his Ukrainian partner Denys Molchanov in Marseille a few days ago.

Rublev posted a thumbnail on his Instagram account that shows two flamboyant figures, one painted in Russian and Ukrainian colors.

“At times like these, my result doesn’t matter,” he added. This is not about my game. Much more terrifying things are happening. »

Rublev said he has been the victim of social media threats since Thursday because of his nationality. It is a situation that Daniil Medvedev, the next world number 1 citizen, must also experience.

This is particularly the reason why the 24-year-old actor wanted to take a position against the armed occupation in front of the media.

“I have to show that I am for peace even if they throw stones at me. I am not here to be aggressive.”

Few Russian athletes spoke publicly on Thursday, but football player Fedor Smolov added his voice to Rublev’s. The International wrote “No to war” on her Instagram account, followed by a Ukrainian flag and a broken heart.