Sport, an indirect target of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Adidas’s recent “veto” of the Russian team adds to the sanctions of other brands and organizations

View of a FIFA headquarters

Photo: FIFA


LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

The most recent episode of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has less than 15 days. However, there are a lot of sanctions and reactions of the international community. The sport of these two countries has been severely affected both by the war and by the measures adopted by international organizations, countries, companies, and athletes. Find out how sport has been affected in these two countries.

Goodbye to Russia in events

Russia is heir to the Soviet sports tradition. For that reason, Russia has allowed it to be a relevant competitor country in world championships of different specialties and the Olympic Games. Likewise, its economic, cultural and political relevance in the world make it an important venue for events such as Formula 1, the Winter Olympics, and the FIFA World Cup, among others. However, Russian sport has been in the eye of the storm for some time because a network of doping of its athletes was discovered. In 2019 the sanction was to deny Russians from participating in international sporting events with their flag and anthem for four years.

However, the war has made the sanction for doping seem small because the relevant events that had an appointment in Russia have been canceled. FIFA and UEFA have banned the Russian national team and its Premier League clubs from participating in any competition. Formula 1 has decided to cancel the Russian Grand Prix that would take place in September, although fortunately for the Russian drivers, they will be able to continue participating in the championship as long as they remain neutral and do not use the flag of their country. It is the same case of the Russian Paralympic athletes who will compete in Beijing.

The International Olympic Committee has also sanctioned extensively. This institution has called on the different federations to exclude Russia from all competition. These include ice hockey, basketball, fencing, rugby, rowing, swimming, athletics, and one of the relevant sporting events on the 2022 calendar: the Qatar World Cup. The Russian Federation has announced that it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) the decision of FIFA and UEFA to exclude them. It should be noted that the institutional position of the FIA, IOC, and FIFA is not necessarily the same as some recognized personalities who have had a close relationship with Vladimir Putin in the last decade. An example is a defense that Bernie Ecclestone, owner of Formula 1, makes of the president.

Russian money also excluded from sport’s world

If Russian clubs and athletes have been sidelined from competitions around the world, the big Russian sponsors have also been sidelined as yet another way to pressure against war. The conflict has severed a nearly 10-year relationship between UEFA and Gazprom, a gas company that sponsored the Champions League and the European Championship, among other events, the Schalke 04 gas company, while Manchester United did so with the airline Aeroflot. In Formula 1, the American Haas fertilizer company Uralkali. The problem is not only sponsorship but that Nikita Mazepin, a racing driver, is the son of one of the company’s owners. The FIA ​​will allow Russian drivers to race. However, this is not necessarily a solution for Haas is at a crossroads over what to do with Mazepin.

And the sport of Ukraine?

The focus is on Russian sport, however the most affected is Ukrainian sport immersed in the ravages of war. With the government focused on responding to the Russian invasion, the sport is virtually at a standstill. With 18 games played in the soccer league, the federation was forced to suspend due to martial law. Thus, thousands of Ukrainian athletes have gone from sport to arms because they have been requested, like many other citizens, to defend the country. Few athletes have expressed their support for the Ukrainian government. They have joined the ranks of the Ukrainian Army. Notable among them are the tennis player Sergey Stakhovsky, the boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, and the chess player Georgy Timoshenko. Like any industry, Ukrainian sport is still waiting to resume to assess the economic, infrastructure, and, above all, human losses.

VAR in Formula One by 2022

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