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Russia-Ukraine face-off impacting negatively on sports

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine which has sparked reactions from governments, organisations, athletes, sports leagues and federations across…

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine which has sparked reactions from governments, organisations, athletes, sports leagues and federations across the world. 

Furthermore, Belarus whose territory was used as a launching pad for the invasion is suffering the same fate as Russia whose action has elicited worldwide condemnation and sanctions.

 Trust Sports, therefore, chronicles the various sports federations that have placed sanctions on Russia and Belarus in a bid to put more pressure on the aggressors to withdraw from Ukraine.


The world’s most popular sport, football is often seen as a sport that can be used to pass a message to a wider audience and its organisers, FIFA and UEFA used the platform to condemn the invasion by banning Russian national and clubs from their competitions “until further notice”.

The Russian men’s team was due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

In a statement, the Russian Football Federation said it “categorically disagreed” with the decision and added that it was contrary to the “spirit of sports”.

The Polish Football Association had previously insisted they would not play Russia in a World Cup playoff semi-final.

UEFA also announced that it is ending its partnership with Russian state energy giant Gazprom, which was believed to have been paying about 40 million euros ($45m) a year in a deal due to run until 2024.

Saint Petersburg, meanwhile, was stripped as host of UEFA’s Champions League final set for May 28. The game has been switched to the Stade de France in Paris.

Manchester United pulled out of a £40 million sponsorship deal with Russia airways, Aeroflot just as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seeking to sell the club after he was sanctioned by the UK government over his ties with the Russia president, Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich is not alone as Everton have suspended all sponsorship deals with Russian companies backed by Alisher Usmanov though he was born in Uzbekistan he is a strong supporter of Putin

His business interests such as USM, MegaFon and Yota have been removed from their stadium, training ground and shirt branding.


The World Curling Federation began the process of removing the Russian Federation’s entries from the World Championships.


Athletes from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing after the International Paralympic Committee reversed its original decision to allow the athletes compete under the Paralympic flag and won’t be included in the medal table.

This action follows the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that sports federations and organisers should not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.


On an individual level, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina was the first tennis player to refuse to compete against a Russian athlete, Anastasia Potapova in Monterrey Open but went ahead after authorities decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing under the name and flag of their countries.


Swimming’s global governing body FINA called off the World Junior Swimming Championships that were to take place in Kazan, a city in Russia while withdrawing the order it awarded Putin in 2014.

Formula One

The enmity between United States and Russia was again brought to the fore when US Formula One team Haas decided not to spot the Russian colours of its title sponsor Uralkali during the last day of pre-season testing in Barcelona. Similarly, the Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for September 25, was cancelled.

Ice hockey

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from its competitions until further notice. It also stripped Russia of the hosting rights for the 2023 junior world championships.


The International Judo Federation (IJF) suspended Russian President Vladimir Putin as its honorary president. 

The IJF also said it cancelled the 2022 Grand Slam in the Russian city of Kazan, planned to be held from May 20 to 22. 


Ukrainian fencers withdrew from the world championships in Cairo to avoid a match with Russia. 


World Taekwondo said they were stripping Putin of an honourary black belt, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine goes against the sport’s motto: “Peace is more precious than triumph”.

The body also said no Russian or Belarusian national flags or anthems would be displayed and played at events, nor will any future events be organised in the two countries.


Rugby’s world governing body banned Russia and Belarus from all international rugby “until further notice”. Russia’s membership in World Rugby was also suspended indefinitely, meaning its slim hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in France are over.


The Badminton World Federation (BWF) cancelled all sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus, banning them from hosting future tournaments “until further notice” and ordering their flags and anthems banned from all BWF tournaments.

Equestrian Sports

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) executive board called for all international events to be removed from Russia and Belarus. 

While the west continues to mount pressure on Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, sanctions that are sports related may continue to pour on the Eastern Europe’s powerhouse. 

Invariably, sports men and women in Russia and Belarus will bear the brunt as they are denied the opportunities to compete for money and laurels.

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