How sport reacted to the Ukraine crisis

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How Sport Reacted To The Ukraine Crisis How Sport Reacted To The Ukraine Crisis
Aleksander Ceferin, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By PA Sport staff

The sporting world will be impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how sport has reacted to the crisis.

Football

UEFA is set to confirm that this season’s Champions League final will no longer take place in St Petersburg, the PA news agency understands.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an extraordinary meeting for Friday where it is expected the 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena will be stripped of its right to host the final.

The governing body said: “UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine.

“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.

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“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow.”

The Scottish Football Association is in talks with UEFA as Ukraine are Scotland’s World Cup play-off opponents.

Ukraine are due to visit Hampden on March 24 and the fate of the game will also be on the agenda at UEFA’s meeting.

The football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic issued a joint statement on Thursday afternoon calling for World Cup play-off matches not to be played in Russia.

The Ukraine Premier League was set to end its winter break on Saturday but is now suspended.

In Germany, second division Schalke announced the logo of main sponsor Gazprom would be removed from the club’s shirts.

Tennis

Russia’s world number seven Andrey Rublev voiced his support for peace, taking to Instagram prior to his match against American Mackenzie McDonald in Dubai to post images of friendship with Ukraine.

After his match Rublev, who won a doubles title with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov at the weekend, said: “In these moments you realise that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible.”

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Elina Svitolina, the most prominent Ukrainian player, changed her Twitter profile picture to a hand in the colours of the country’s flag alongside the words ‘Pray for Ukraine’.

She also posted a message expressing her sadness at the situation, writing: “I can’t,” accompanied by crying and heartbroken emojis.

No main tour events are due to take place in Russia until the autumn but the Moscow Cup, a stop on the second-tier ATP Challenger Tour, is scheduled next week while a third-tier International Tennis Federation event in Kazan is on the calendar in early April.

An ITF spokeswoman told the PA news agency: “We are closely monitoring how this situation evolves and any course of action will be decided based on a thorough risk assessment and the advice we receive from security experts and the relevant authorities.”

Formula One

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has said he will boycott the Russian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel says he will not race in Russia (Bradley Collyer/PA)

F1 has so far refused to scrap the round in Sochi but the grid’s major players are set to stage a crisis summit on Thursday night.

Vettel, one of the sport’s leading figures and director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said: “My own opinion is that I should not go and I will not go.”

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World champion Max Verstappen added: “When a country is at war, it is not correct to race there.”

Athletics

World Athletics said it is “appalled” by developments in Ukraine and condemns the invasion. A statement said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has spoken with his senior vice-president Sergey Bubka, the former Ukrainian pole-vaulter, and the Ukrainian Athletics Federation and “has offered whatever practical support we can give”.

The situation is not expected to affect the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat or the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

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