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Russia will no longer host the Champions League final

UEFA will no longer host the Champions League final in St Petersburg after Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

An extraordinary meeting of UEFA’s executive committee will be held on Friday to discuss the geopolitical crisis and when officials are ready to confirm Russia’s May 28 main party withdrawal, a person familiar with the process said on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private conversations.

UEFA has publicly blamed Russia and said it was dealing with the “situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency” as it confirmed the meeting by 9am GMT on Friday.

“UEFA shares the international community’s major concern about the security situation in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine,” the governing body said in a statement.

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“We stand firm in our solidarity with the Ukrainian football community and are ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.”

The Ukrainian football federation has issued a statement calling for the transfer of the Champions League final and the suspension of all Russian national teams and clubs from international competitions.

As Russia’s threats against Ukraine grew over the week, the British government and fan groups had already called for the final not to be played in St. Petersburg, where the stadium is sponsored by Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

The company is also the main sponsor of Schalke, but the German second division club said on Thursday that the Gazprom logo was being removed from its jerseys.

A senior Gazprom executive has also left the Gelsenkirchen-based club’s supervisory board after being targeted by US sanctions. Matthias Warnig is the CEO of the newly built but never operated Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, which is a multimillion-dollar project of Gazprom and European companies.

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Critics said Schalke was used to popularize Gazprom in Germany as it pushed for the construction of pipelines under the Baltic Sea, which eluded Ukraine. Gazprom has been a sponsor since 2006 and provided the money that drove the race to the Champions League semifinals in 2011.

German newspaper Bild began covering Gazprom logos on Schalke’s T-shirts this week with “Freedom for Ukraine” to protest Russia’s growing military intervention in Ukraine.

UEFA’s sponsorship of Gazprom is also under scrutiny, as its brand has a significant profile this week in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

UEFA’s leadership did not call for a Champions League final until Russia began attacking Ukrainian cities and military bases on Thursday with airstrikes and bombing as tanks and troops crossed the border.

The International Olympic Committee has said it “strongly condemns the Russian government’s failure to comply with the Olympic Truce” days after the end of the closing of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

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The truce aims to ensure safe passage for athletes during the Games and, in the long run, promote the idea of ​​working for world peace. It will run until the end of the Paralympic Games, which will open in Beijing on March 4.

The International Paralympic Committee has condemned Russia and said it has held talks with Ukrainian sports officials, who still plan to compete in Beijing and demand a safe passage for their athletes.

“This is a really horrible situation, and we are very concerned about our National Paralympic Committee and those for Ukrainian athletes,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons. “Our top priority right now is the security and welfare of the Ukrainian delegation, with whom we are in regular dialogue.”

Russia’s name, flag and anthem have already been excluded from the Beijing Paralympic Games from March 4 to 13 due to previous doping disputes. His team will compete as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee.

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Russia has violated the Olympic Truce three times in 14 years, waging a war with Georgia over the disputed territory of South Ossetia during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and launched a military takeover that annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine after the closure of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

The focus is returning to Russia hosting other major sporting events in the coming months.

In tennis, the men’s professional tour issued a statement announcing that the ATP Challenger tournament to be held in Moscow next week “will not take place as planned” due to “concern for player safety and uncertainty related to international travel after the recent escalation of events between Russia and Ukraine. “

In basketball, Barcelona have said their team will not fly to Russia for two games against Russian teams – Zenit St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow – on Friday and Sunday in the Euroleague. A qualifier for the World Cup between Spain and Ukraine was played in Spain on Thursday, despite requests from Ukrainian players to suspend the match. All the public and the Spanish team applauded loudly to the Ukrainians before the match.

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Ukrainian NBA players Alex Len of the Sacramento Kings and Svi Mykhailiuk of the Toronto Raptors posted a joint statement on social media, saying:

“We strongly condemn the war. Ukraine is a peaceful and sovereign state inhabited by people who want to decide their own destiny. We pray for our families, friends, relatives and all those who are in the territory of Ukraine. We hope for an end to this terrible “War as soon as possible. Dear Ukrainian compatriots, hold on! Our strength is in unity! We are with you!”

In rugby, European organizers have postponed Georgia’s match with Russia on Sunday in Tbilisi at the European Rugby Championships. The women’s match between Spain and Russia was still going on on Saturday in Madrid.

FIFA has not yet ruled on Russia’s scheduled World Cup qualifier against Poland on March 24 for the right to also host the winner of a match between the Czech Republic and Sweden for a place in Qatar. The Polish, Czech and Swedish federations wrote to FIFA saying that the games should not be played in Russia, citing “military escalation” and “less security”.

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Formula One said he was “watching closely the very smooth developments”, but did not comment further on whether his career in Sochi would be canceled in September. Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel has said he will not compete in the Russian Grand Prix.

“I’m not going,” said the German driver. “I think it’s wrong to run in the country. I feel like innocent people who are losing their lives, who are being killed (for) stupid reasons and a very strange and crazy leadership.”

In domestic sports in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Football League has suspended its operations on Thursday due to the decision of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to impose martial law. The league was on a two-month winter hiatus and was due to resume on Friday. You have not set a reset date.

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AP Sports writer James Ellingworth in Düsseldorf, Germany contributed to this report.

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Russia will no longer host the Champions League final

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