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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Sports pile pressure: FIFA & UEFA suspend Russia, no F1 races, chess, ice hockey or badminton events either

Sports bodies around the world are sending out a strong message and piling pressure by boycotting events and tournaments in Russia.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: March 2, 2022 2:36:16 pm
A woman holds a poster Spopwar during a protest in support of Ukraine in front of the Russian General Consulate in Narva, Estonia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine's capital Saturday, and street fighting broke out as city officials urged residents to take shelter. (AP)

While sanctions are being issued around the world against Russia for invading Ukraine, sports is sending out a strong message and piling pressure by boycotting events and tournaments in the country.

Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people have fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.

Russian teams have been suspended from international soccer after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision came Monday from FIFA and UEFA, saying Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”

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“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

On Tuesday, Russia was also excluded from upcoming FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup.

“Following yesterday’s recommendation by the IOC to avoid the participation of Russian athletes and officials in international competitions – in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all participants – the Executive Board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has taken the decision to exclude Russia from the upcoming FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup scheduled from 1 to 12 April in Potchefstroom, South Africa,” an FIH release stated.

In a sweeping move to isolate and condemn Russia after invading Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies on Monday to exclude the country’s athletes and officials from international events.

The IOC said it was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

The International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies to cancel or move all events they plan to hold in Russia and Belarus, and stop using the countries’ flags and national anthems. The request from the Olympic body came after UEFA moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to suburban Paris, and after the governing body of skiing and Formula One pulled upcoming races from Russia. As a consequence, Vladimir Putin temporarily lost his most senior official position in world sports. The Russian president is a keen judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.

Labour MP Chris Bryant urged the British government on Friday to seize the assets of Russian billionaire and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, citing concerns about alleged links to corruption. Abramovich was identified by the Home Office in 2019 as having links to the Russian state as well as to “corrupt activity and practices”, Bryant said, suggesting the UK should seize his assets and bar him from owning the football club.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said he would take up arms alongside his brother and fellow Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko to fight in what is a “bloody war” following Russia’s invasion of their country Ukraine.

Even Russian sports stars have come forward to express their concern over the ongoing crisis. Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev has written “No War Please” on a TV camera moments after advancing to the final at the Dubai Championships.  Meanwhile, new World No. 1 in men’s tennis Daniil Medvedev said, “Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy. By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries; I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. … I’m all for peace.”

Here are the list of bans on Russia in the sporting world:

– Vladimir Putin stripped of black belt over Ukraine invasion

– FIFA and UEFA said on Monday that Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”

Badminton World Federation has cancelled all sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus following the Ukraine crisis. No other BWF tournaments will be allocated to Russia or Belarus until further notice.

– Russian athletes have been excluded from yet another sport that is extremely popular at home following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia was banned from competing in international ice skating events.

– The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) has banned shooters from Russia and Belarus from all its events owing to the invasion of Ukraine that has triggered global outrage. The decision came even as a World Cup takes place in Cairo, Egypt where Russian shooters were competing till Tuesday. The statement from ISSF now indicates that they may no longer be able to continue in the event.

– International chess body FIDE has banned Russia and Belarus from holding world chess events.

– The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) suspended Russian and Belarusian teams from its competitions until further notice and revoked Russia’s 2023 World Junior Championship hosting rights.

– Poland’s Football Association said that Poland will not play a World Cup qualifying soccer match against Russia. Russia is due to host Poland in the semi-finals of its strand of the World Cup playoffs on March 24 and, if its team advances, is scheduled to host either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 in the Path B final. Poland and Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandoski has supported Poland FA decision of not playing their World Cup qualifying match.

– Czech Republic has also refused to play Russia in 2022 World Cup play-offs. Meanwhile, Sweden’s soccer federation maintained its objection to playing any matches against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine and expressed its disappointment Monday with FIFA for keeping the Russians in World Cup qualifying. Sweden’s official stance came a day after Poland and the Czech Republic declared they would not be accepting FIFA’s attempted compromise in ordering Russia to play without its flag and anthem at neutral venues under the name of its federation _ the Football Union of Russia.

Formula One dropped this season’s Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, as the invasion of Ukraine drew punitive measures in the sporting world. The F1 race wasn’t due until September in the Black Sea resort of Sochi but the motorsport series leadership decided it would be “impossible” to stage the Grand Prix after talks with teams and the FIA governing body.

– Russia was stripped of hosting the Champions League final by UEFA on Friday with St. Petersburg replaced by Paris. The showpiece final in the European men’s football season will still be held on May 28 but now at the 80,000-seat Stade de France in the Saint-Denis suburb of the French capital after the decision by UEFA’s executive committee. It followed discussions led by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin that involved the European Commission and French President Emmanuel Macron in recent days after concerns were raised about the status of Russia retaining such a prestigious event after its aggression toward another European country.

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