UEFA will strip St. Petersburg of the Champions League final.
“On this tragic day, our thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine, our friends, colleagues, members, & their loved ones,” the Fans Supporters Europe group tweeted hours after Russia’s invasion had started. “Given the events unfolding, we expect an imminent announcement from UEFA on the relocation of the Champions League final.”
Soccer federations from Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden have written to FIFA calling for Russia to be banned from hosting playoff games for the Qatar World Cup. Poland is due to meet Russia in Moscow next month, and if Russia wins, it will face a final eliminator against the winner of the game between the Czechs and Sweden also in Russia.
Gazprom’s influence extends beyond UEFA. Officials from the company — which controls Russia’s top club, F.C. Zenit — sit in other influential positions, like the board of the European Club Association, a representative group for top clubs. Gazprom has since 2007 also sponsored one of Germany’s leading teams, Schalke, an association that now appears to be at an end.
“Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club’s shirts. It will be replaced by lettering reading ‘Schalke 04’ instead,” the club said on Twitter on Thursday.
UEFA also faced a tough decision over what to do with the last remaining Russian club in its competitions. In the end, though, Zenit did not advance to the next round of the Europa League, Europe’s second-tier club tournament, after failing late Thursday to overcome Real Betis in the second game of a two-leg playoff. Zenit thought it had forced extra time but a last-minute goal was controversially negated following a video review.
The crisis has also led to mounting speculation about the future of Abramovich’s decade-long ownership of Chelsea. He was not named in a first tranche of Russian billionaires subject to British government sanctions this week. But some lawmakers said he, and Alisher Usmanov, a billionaire whose holding company USM is the biggest partner of another Premier League team, Everton, should be added to the sanctions list.