— Published 23 February 2022

Russia could lose big

Drapeau Russe

Threat to the next Champions League final. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke on Tuesday 22 February about the political situation between Russia and Ukraine. And announced that English clubs would not be allowed to travel to St Petersburg, where the European match is scheduled for 28 May, at the Gazprom Arena. “There is no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries,” he said. The UK’s Minister for Sport and Culture, Nadine Dorries, said on her Twitter account that she had “grave concerns” about hosting sporting events in Russia. “We won’t allow President Putin to exploit events on the world stage to legitimise his illegal invasion of Ukraine,” she wrote. At this stage of the season, Britain’s position is still very much in doubt, with the Champions League only at the quarter-final stage. But four of the last six finalists in the competition have been English clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea. UEFA’s very cautious response: “Each decision will be taken in due course, if necessary.

Another sport and event concerned is volleyball and the 2022 Men’s World Cup. It is due to take place in Russia from 26 August. Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk told an online media outlet that it would be appropriate for the sport’s international body, the FIVB, to withdraw the organisation from the Russians. “Sport is a very important vector of social emotions and if we sanctioned sport it would be, firstly, noticeable and, secondly, felt by Russian society, and that should be the role of sanctions, he explained. Taking away the World Volleyball Championship, withdrawing the right to the Champions League final or the organisation of a play-off match will certainly be noticed by the Russians and associated with the fact that the policy pursued by their authorities does not meet with international acceptance.” As a reminder, Russia is suspended as a nation from the Olympic movement after the Sochi Games doping scandal and the manipulation of data from the Moscow laboratory. Its suspension is due to end in December 2022.