Sporting world reacts to Russia′s invasion of Ukraine: 24 February | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW | 24.02.2022

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Sporting world reacts to Russia's invasion of Ukraine: 24 February

Sport is utterly insignificant in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, those connected with it have been making their voices heard.

Barcelona and Napoli players hold up a Stop War banner

Barcelona and Napoli players hold up a banner with a clear message ahead of their game

  • Support and protest on show
  • F1 team makes livery changes
  • FIFA and DFL respond
  • Bayern basketball game postponed

Basketball update

Some more out of Bayern Munich's postponed EuroLeague game from DW reporter Mathias Brück who was in Munich today.

Support across football games

Ahead of Zenit's game in Seville, people gathered outside the stadium to show their support for Ukraine. Zenit is owned and sponsored by the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom. Betis won the game and the tie, but only after Zenit had a last-minute goal ruled out by VAR.

Ahead of Barcelona's game against Napoli, the players of both teams came together to hold together a banner with a clear message. Barcelona beat Napoli to advance. Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund were knocked out by Rangers.

Ahead of their Europa Conference League against Fenerbahce, Slavia Prague wore yellow jerseys with a message of support written on them.

Protest after goal

Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi has just scored in the Europa League and celebrated by revealing a "No war in Ukraine" message written on the undershirt of the Ukraine international.

Meanwhile, UEFA have just confirmed that Zenit's game will go ahead. Interesting that, given the Euro League basketball games including Russian teams were postponed earlier.

F1 team announces livery changes

The Haas Formula 1 team has announced it will remove branding of title sponsor Uralkali, a Russian potash fertilizer producer and exporter, for tomorrow's final day of pre-season testing. The team will race in a plain white livery instead of the usual red, white and blue.

Uralkali is also part-owned by the father of Haas driver Nikita Mazepin.

DFL condems attacks

The DFL, the German football league, has released a statement condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine "in the strongest possible terms."

"War in any form is unacceptable – and incompatible with the values of sport. Our immediate concern is for the people affected in Ukraine. The DFL is in contact with the national and international associations regarding this matter."

FIFA respond to situation

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has been speaking at a press conference tonight where he also announced the indefinite suspension of Kenya and Zimbabwe from world football due to government interference.

Here are some of his quotes on the situation in Ukraine:

On the Russian invasion:

"I was shocked by what I saw. I am worried and concerned by this situation. FIFA condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts. Violence is never a solution and FIFA calls on all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue."

On his relationship with Putin and endorsing a World Cup in Russia:

"We are constantly reflecting on the role of sport in trying to bring people together in a peaceful environment. Today my thoughts are on all the people who are affected by this escalating conflict."

On World Cup games being moved from Russia:

"We have duty to look at this matter seriously, to analyse it. We will look at it as a matter of urgency. We hope the situation will be solved well before the first match (in a month)."

There was also this from AP Global Sports Reporter Rob Harris:

Europa League football

There are football games tonight though, including Zenit St. Petersburg who are playing in Seville against Real Betis in the Europa League. Last night, Benfica's Ukrainian Roman Yaremchuck protested after scoring a goal.

Bayern basketball postpone game

Bayern Munich were due to play CSKA Moscow in a big Euro League basketball game this evening, but the club has postponed the game after events today. Barcelona, the leading team in the tournament, have already stated they will not travel to St. Petersburg for their game vs. Zenit on Friday.

Brazilian players call for help

A number of Brazilian players attached to clubs in Ukraine have sent a heartfelt video plea to their government to help them escape.

More on this story here.

For older updates, please go to page two:

Trio call for World Cup qualifiers to move location

In a joint statement, the Football Associations of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic have asked for their 2022 World Cup qualifying matches scheduled to be played in Russia in late March to be played elsewhere.

Champions League final to be moved

Will St. Petersburg still be allowed to host the Champions League Final on May 28`? Several media reports indicate that UEFA, football's European governing body, is set to withdraw the hosting rights from the Russian city. The decision is expected to be made at a special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee on Friday.

Schalke removes Gazprom logo from jersey

Longtime Bundesliga club Schalke, who are now in the second division, has announced they are removing the logo of their main sponsor Gazprom from their jerseys as a result of the invasion. The Russian majority state-owned multinational energy corporation had been Schalke's jersey sponsor since 2007.

In addition, Gazprom's representative on Schalke's supervisory board, Matthias Warnig, has resigned from the post with immediate effect. The 66-year-old had been appointed to the board in July 2019. Warnig is regarded as a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

IOC condemnation

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which otherwise claims to be "apolitical" has strongly condemned "the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government," adding that the "respective UN resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 2, 2021 by consensus of all 193 UN Member States. The Olympic Truce began seven days before the start of the Olympic Games, on 4 February 2022, and ends seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games."

There seems to be a precedent for Russia taking major military action shortly after the Winter Olympics; just after the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia started preparations to effectively annex Crimea on the instructions of President Putin.

Sebastian Vettel: 'I won't go to Russia'

Four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel has ruled out driving in September's Russian Grand Prix in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

'The 34-year-old German, who is head of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association said they had yet to discuss the matter, "but personally I'm shocked and sad to see what's going on, so we will see going forward but I think my decision is already made."

That's a decision that may wind up being taken out of Vettel's hands. Formula 1 said in a statement that it was "closely watching the very fluid developments" but made no further comment on whether the race in Sochi would go ahead. F1 team principals were to meet on Thursday to discuss the way forward.

Defending F1 drivers' champion Max Verstappen concurred with Vettel in principle but stopped short committing to pulling out of the Sochi race. "I think when a country is at war it's not correct to race there, that's for sure," Verstappen said. "But it's not only what I think, it's the whole paddock (that is) going to decide what we are going to do next."

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