Sat. May 25th, 2024

The Russian government’s decision to invade Ukraine is affecting the country in many different ways. Western companies are cutting ties and closing branches in Russia. Unsurprisingly, Russia is pressured on the international stage. UEFA and FIFA are doing their part by banning Russian clubs from all European football competitions. The decision was made in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The football organizations did not specify when the Russians would be back, if ever. The decision affects local Russian clubs as well as their national team. Also, it extends to the Russian women’s soccer team as well.

So far, Spartak Moscow is the only Russian team affected. They were set to play against RB Leipzig in 1/8 finals of Europa League. The representative for Spartak Moscow called the decision upsetting. The team expressed their position that sportsmanship should be isolated from politics.

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UEFA also announced that it will no longer have Gazprom as its sponsor. The decision was, once again, made in response to the recent invasion of Ukraine. 

The Russian football national team was set to go up against Poland in play-offs to qualify for the World Cup. After the decision, that match will no longer take place. In addition to UEFA’s decision to cut out Russia, Polish players also felt very strongly about playing against Russia. Robert Lewandowski, a Bayern center-forward, publicly stated that he would not play against the Russian team.

The Russian Football Federation was incensed by UEFA’s decision. Their representative claimed that it was unfair and the RFU would challenge it in the courts.

Initially, the governing body for European football did not ban all Russian teams altogether. Instead, the teams were urged to play in neutral stadiums, outside of Russia. Also, they were not allowed to play the Russian anthem. After facing harsh criticisms from the public, FIFA decided to go one step further and ban all Russian teams from competing instead. Also, the football organizations of many European countries refused to play with the Russian team altogether. Scotland and Ukraine are actually set to play off against each other on 24th of March. 

Most importantly, UEFA canceled the Champions League final, which was originally intended to be held at Saint Petersburg. The new final will be played in Paris instead.

Individual football clubs are also responding to Russian aggression. Manchester United, for instance, are getting out of their partnership with Russian airline Aeroflot. Schalke, a team that had conglomerate Gazprom as its sponsor, has cut ties with the Russian company as well. The manager of Tottenham football club, Antonio Conte, publicly called out Russian invasion and called it stupid.

Younger Russian teams are not doing any better. All matches between Russia’s younger teams and their European counterparts have been canceled.

Football is one of the most popular sports in Russia. Putin has long used Football to bolster the image of his country on the international stage. Internally, he has also used sports to increase the prestige of his government. With international sanctions and so many countries refusing to participate in any sporting event with Russia, that may soon change.

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