Russia loses Champions League final in Paris. Sochi F1 race was dropped



UEFA removed Russia from hosting the Champions League final on Friday, with St. Petersburg being replaced by Paris. Formula One also dropped the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi this season, as punitive actions were taken in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Manchester United, an English Premier League team, also dropped Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot from its sponsor list. This was due to “events happening in Ukraine”, after it was banned in Britain on Thursday under sanctions.

Gazprom remains a Champions League sponsor of UEFA. However, the final will not take place at the St. Petersburg stadium named for the Russian state-owned power company. After the decision by UEFA’s executive committee, the climax of European men’s football season will continue to be played on May 28th but it will now take place at the Stade de France, which seats 80,000 people in the Saint-Denis suburb.

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.

Macron was thanked for his “personal support, commitment to see European club football’s most prestigious game move to France in a time when there is unprecedented crisis.”

WATCH: Breaking down the sports response to invasion

UEFA, Schalke 04, & soccer federations respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Global sport professor Simon Chadwick joins CBC Sports’ Jacqueline Doorey to break down the response from the sporting world to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, specifically the affiliations of governing bodies with state-owned companies like Gazprom. 6:14

Alexander Dyukov from Russia was a member of the UEFA executive council. He claimed that the decision was taken because of “political motives.” Dyukov also opposed UEFA ordering Russian clubs and national teams to play at neutral venues until further notice — a ruling also imposed on Ukrainian sides.

The Russian military and bombs had already pounded Ukraine in the first day of the invasion. On Friday, world leaders began to plan a response that would punish the Russian economy as well as its leaders, including President Vladimir Putin.

F1 was due to race in September in Sochi Black Sea resort, but after discussing with teams and the governing body of FIA, the motorsport series leadership decided that the Grand Prix would not be possible. During preseason testing in Barcelona, the American team Haas dropped sponsorship of Russian company Uralkali. Russian driver Nikita Masepin is the only F1 driver this season.

F1 released a statement saying that they were watching developments in Ukraine with sadness, shock, and hoping for a peaceful resolution.

French officials will collaborate with UEFA in order to save footballers and their families from “dire human suffering, destruction, and displacement”, said European football’s governing body.

British fans and government had requested that UEFA stop playing the Champions League final in St. Petersburg. Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, sponsors the stadium. (Anton Vaganov/The Associated Press).

World Cup: Still unresolved 

Russia is still due to host Poland in the World Cup qualifying semifinals in Moscow. This issue remains unresolved. FIFA is yet to make a decision on Poland’s request that the game be taken out of Russia.

UEFA was more decisive in hosting the Champions League final, which was well received by the British government.

“Russia should not be allowed exploit sporting and cultural events to legitimize its unprovoked and premeditated attack on a sovereign democratic country,” said Nadine Dorries, British Culture Secretary.

After two previous switches because of coronavirus problems, UEFA had to move its Champions League final site for the third year.

The Champions League final took place at the Stade de France in 2006, when Barcelona beat Arsenal.

To host the 2021 final, the St. Petersburg stadium of 68,000 capacity was initially chosen in 2019. This was postponed for one year due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy company, is the stadium’s name. It is also a premier-tier UEFA sponsor for the Champions League and European Championship.

UEFA still has two weeks before next season’s Champions League games to solve the issue with Gazprom advertisements flashing around stadium pitches. Dyukov, a Gazprom affiliate CEO, sits on the European football’s top decision making body. This reinforces the company’s close ties with UEFA.

Gazprom’s logo was removed from Schalke’s jerseys this week, but it is still a sponsor.

Manchester United has not yet dropped Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot, despite the fact that it was banned in Britain on Thursday.

The International Ski Federation announced this week that Russia will not be hosting any of its World Cup events. After a bizarre attempt to host ski cross races in Sunny Valley, Urals on Friday, the International Ski Federation decided against hosting any more of its World Cup events. This was just one day after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Only a few Russians took part, and many other racers did not participate. FIS announced the cancellation of five scheduled events for the month, citing “the safety and integrity of the World Cup”. Alternative venues are being searched.

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