The eyes of the whole world are locked in Ukraine as Russia continues to wage war on its neighbor without paying heed to the damage it is causing on humanitarian grounds. The sympathies from the footballing universe have been with the suffering nation and its people.
Vladimir Putin's firm stance and aggressive nature has been the cause of major unrest in Europe lately. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the EU to let his nation join the union with immediate effect, but those appeals did not bore any fruit.
Various nations are trying to use sanctions that could hurt Russia in terms of commerce, trade and international relations to show their support for Ukraine and condemn Putin's actions.
The war has naturally had its effects on almost every sector and although talking about football makes little sense in such moments, the sport has not been immune to the crisis.
Throughout Europe, football clubs and associations have taken a stand against the war, hoping that it will cease soon. The message of solidarity has been sung in unison and Ukrainian footballers playing in foreign territories have been on the receiving end of frequent applause and love.
Here are the five direct consequences the Russo-Ukrainian war has had on football.
#1 Russia National team face uncertain future after FIFA ban
The governing body of world football, FIFA, along with UEFA, have shown solidarity with Ukraine and have punished Russia in the footballing realm where their jurisdiction lies. The Russian men's national team will not play in this month's World Cup play-offs and potentially the World Cup in Qatar.
Spartak Moscow have also faced the heat as the club have been kicked out of the Europa League. They were set to face German club RB Leipzig in the Round of 16 phase but as a result of UEFA's decision, the Bundesliga club will now advance to the quarter-finals.
The Women's Euro 2022 tournament was also scheduled for the summer this year and the Russian women's team will no longer be part of the contest anymore.
The men's football team was supposed to play their qualifier against Poland on 24th March in Russia. They would then play another match against the winner of Sweden vs Czech Republic clash in Moscow on the 29th. All three FAs, the Swedish, Czech and Polish, released a joint statement declaring that they will not play any games in Russia concerning the safety of their players and staff.
FIFA had initially decided to conduct these games at neutral venues, and that Russia would contest without their flag and anthem. However, various other FAs have united with three listed above against Russia, which has led to stricter measures.
Depending on how long the decision lasts, it could have an impact on Ukraine and Russia's UEFA Nations League campaigns as well, which will be contested in June and September this year.
#2 Manchester United and Schalke part ways with Russian sponsors
Trade and commerce were inevitably going to suffer with Russia's continued stubbornness in their hostile approach towards Ukraine and the ripples have reached football as well. Popular Bundesliga club Schalke 04 who got relegated last season and now plays in the second tier of German football, removed the lettering Gazprom from their jerseys.
Instead, they have replaced it with the club's name. Gazprom is a state-run Russian oil and gas giant who has been involved with European football for quite some time now. Furthermore, Matthias Warnig, who represents the company and is a member of the club's board, will also step down.
The Russian energy giant is also a partner of UEFA. Pressure was mounting on European football's governing body to put an end to their relationship with Gazprom as well. UEFA then confirmed that they have parted ways with the sponsor with whom they apparently had a £30m-a-year deal.
Premier League club Manchester United were also quick to take action and cancel their sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflat. The two first joined hands back in 2013 and had later extended the deal in 2017. The Red Devils refused to fly with the airline to Spain for their clash against Atletico Madrid in the UCL.
Everton have also suspended sponsorship deals with USM Holdings, Megafon and Yota, all three of which are owned by Usbek-born Russian magnate Alisher Usmanov. His assets were frozen by the EU. Reportedly, Usmanov also has an exclusive rights agreement for the Toffees' new stadium, which is due to open for the 2024-25 season.
Sports equipment giant Adidas has also suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Federation in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
#3 Roman Abramovich and Chelsea's successful love affair comes to an unfortunate end
After 19 glorious years as Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich has declared that the club is up for sale, in an emotionally draining decision for fans. He has changed the club's fortunes since arriving on the scene in 2003 and funded the club wholeheartedly throughout his tenure.
Together, they have conquered a grand total of 19 titles, including the Premier League and the FA Cup five times each, the Champions League and Europa League twice each. The Russian oligarch is suspected of having close ties with Russia's president Vladimir Putin, although he denies any sort of association with the Kremlin.
Abramovich fears that he could soon end up on the growing list of Russian banks, businesses and pro-Kremlin moguls who are being sanctioned by the UK government. His assets in the country could potentially be seized sooner rather than later.
Despite this, the club's sale is not being fast-tracked and will follow its due procedure. The Russian owner has also decided to write-off all the loans (£1.5bn) that Chelsea had to pay him back, a move that will lure more potential buyers.
The net proceeds from the west London club's sale will go to a charitable foundation that Abramovich's team will make in order to help the victims of the war in Ukraine.
#4 Russia stripped off opportunity to host Champions League final
European football's governing body, UEFA, have decided to relocate the Champions League final of the 2021-22 edition scheduled for May 28th to France. Prior to the Russian invasion, the contest was set to be hosted at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, which is the home ground of popular Russian club Zenit Petersburg.
However, after political tensions continued in Eastern Europe and Vladimir Putin sustained his aggressive approach, Russia was stripped of hosting the final. An extraordinary meeting chaired by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin received support from French president Emmanuel Macron.
The decision was then taken to relocate the final to the Stade de France in the French capital. The last time Russia got the opportunity to host the blockbuster footballing spectacle was in 2008, when Manchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
#5 The plight of Brazilian football community trapped in Ukraine
Unsurprisingly, due to ongoing tensions, uncertainty and unrest, footballing activities in Ukraine have been suspended. Most people are aware of the fact that Ukraine has been the preferred location for Brazilian footballers for many years now.
The likes of Alex Teixeira, Willian, Douglas Costa, Fernandinho and many more burst onto the scene after playing in Ukraine. The country's league is still home to many footballers from the South American nation and the war has affected them quite considerably.
A number of footballers who represent popular clubs Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv released a video pleading for help. They survived in hotel bunkers amidst continued bombardment and invasion of Russian troops. The Brazilian contingent traveled across the nation via trains and busses, passing through Moldova to Romania.
They were then finally able to board a flight and return to their home territory. It has been a horror experience that has drastically impacted the mental well-being of many of these players. Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca was also trapped in Ukraine and spent a day and a half in a bunker with Shakhtar's Brazilian players.
The Portuguese embassy then successfully arranged a car for Fonseca and his family to set out on an almost 30-hour journey to escape the war zone. He has urged Western countries to come to Ukraine's aid in this dire situation.
The Ukrainian Premier League has been postponed ahead of its Gameweek 19 and there is no return date announced as of yet.
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