Russia’s occupation of Ukraine has exposed divisions in European football that threaten multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, leading to calls to move the Champions League final, the biggest game on the season’s calendar, outside its planned city of St. Petersburg.
UEFA, the governing body for football in Europe and the organizer of the Champions League, has refused to comply with requests from some European countries to relocate the game scheduled for May 29. The strongest opposition to Russia’s hosting came from Britain. Can provide one or both of the final participants. Last year’s final between Premier League teams Manchester City and Chelsea. The latter belonged to a Russian oligarchy, Roman Abramovich.
“I have serious concerns about sporting events in Russia, such as the Champions League final, and I will discuss with the governing bodies concerned,” said Nadine Doris, the British Minister of State for Sports. Wrote on Twitter.
Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, told the BBC on Wednesday morning that she was opposed to the final being held in St. Petersburg.
UEFA said it was “constantly and closely monitoring the situation.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Russian President Vladimir V on Tuesday. He announced sanctions against the other three Russian billionaires as part of a campaign aimed at those close to Putin. An ally of the Russian leader, Mr. Abramovich has faced difficulties in entering the UK since new visa restrictions were imposed on Russian businessmen in 2018.
There were no direct consequences for his investment in Chelsea, but Mr. Johnson’s government has said Russia will not restrict its operations in Ukraine and is planning further action.
Fans of another Premier League team, Everton, are also eagerly awaiting. Its largest sponsor, USM, is controlled by another Russian billionaire associated with the Kremlin, Alisher Usmanov. Margaret Hodge, lawmaker of Britain’s opposition Labor party; Abramovich and Mr. Osmanov told parliament that they should be subjected to sanctions, describing them as “cryptocurrencies stolen from the Russian people.”
Waves of crisis have also reached Germany, where Russian energy company Gazprom has been a supporter of Schalke, one of the country’s leading teams since 2007. German sports leaders, politicians and fan groups have called for the deal to be scrapped.
The club said in a statement: “We look forward to hearing from you soon and keep up the good content.”
Gasprom is a major sponsor of football, providing millions of dollars to teams and primarily through a long-standing business relationship with UEFA. As a great partner, Casprom’s logo is now a common sight in stadiums and on television broadcasts during the Champions League, the richest club competition in football.
Gosprom has several deals in football, especially with FIFA, the organizer of the World Cup. FIFA has not commented on its relationship with Russia or with Russia, as Russian military units have moved in the direction of Mr Putin against neighboring Ukraine.
However, it may have to do so soon: on Tuesday the Football Federation of Poland asked to clarify the status of a crucial qualifying match for the World Cup against Russia, which is set to take place in Moscow next month.