top of page

Russia abandoned: How sport reacted after Ukraine invasion

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Sport has reacted to the invasion of Ukraine by isolating and eliminating Russia from sporting events and competitions.

Russia Ukraine War Sports Photo Gallery (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Governments and institutions around the world are taking action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by freezing assets, placing major sanctions and restricting trade. However, it’s not just oil prices and Russian bonds that have been affected by the invasion. Sport has reacted to the invasion with a strong anti-war message, which could spell devastation for the Russian sports market.

As a result, Russia is facing a sporting fallout over the war, which has seen hundreds of thousands displaced in Ukraine. Sports organisations are on a crackdown to isolate Russia and eliminate any mention of the country within competitions.

It’s not just the Russian financial market that will feel the squeeze. As long as the war continues, consequences are likely to pile up for Russian sport.

Here’s a full breakdown of how the invasion has impacted sport across the world:

Sponsorship and Business deals

28th February 2022

German football club FC Schalke 04 has cut ties with main sponsor Gazprom following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom is a state-owned energy company in Russia, with whom President Vladimir Putin is understood to have a large influence in their dealings.

1st March 2022

Adidas suspends partnership with Russian football union with immediate effect.

1st March 2022

Nike makes online sales unavailable in Russia as it cannot guarantee delivery to customers in the country.


26th February 2022

Georgian basketball star walks out on CSKA Moscow and flees Russia in an anti-war protest.

Tornike Shengelia said it’s not “possible to continue playing for the Russian Army club”.


25th February 2022

Klitschko brothers to take up arms and fight for Ukraine. Vitali Klitschko, former heavyweight boxing champion, mayor of Kyiv since 2014, will join his brother in a war against Russian invaders.

“I don’t have another choice, I have to do that. I’ll be fighting.”

28th February 2022

Vasily Lomachenko joins the frontline with the Klitschko brothers to fight the Russian invasion. The three-weight world champion announced that he has joined the ‘territorial defence battalion’ for his hometown, Bilhoord-Dnistrovskyi.

1st March 2022

Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk joins Kyiv Territorial Defense in the frontline and becomes the latest Ukrainian boxer to take up arms.

Instagram @andrii_nebytov


1st March 2022

The Management Committee of the Union Cycliste Internationale, Cycling's governing body, has banned Russian or Belarusian national teams from taking part in any event on the UCI calendar.

The UCI said it would not consider any team applications or requests to host events from the two countries.


25th February 2022

UEFA moves Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UEFA executive committee decided to move the lucrative and popular Champions League final from Putin’s home city St Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris. Zenit St. Petersburg's Gazprom Arena had been scheduled to host the Champions League final on May 28.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

25th February 2022

Manchester United withdraws Russian Airline Aeroflot’s £40m sponsorship rights after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian Airline first made a deal back in 2013 with Manchester United to replace Turkish Airlines as a sponsor. The decision followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s sanction announcements, which included banning Aeroflot from the UK.

A club statement read: "In light of events in Ukraine, we have withdrawn Aeroflot's sponsorship rights. We share the concerns of our fans around the world and extend our sympathies to those affected."

27th February 2022

Czech FA refuses to play World Cup qualifier with Russia.

"The FA executive committee approved unanimously the decision that the Czech national team will under no circumstances play the possible game against Russia's team in the 2022 World Cup qualification.”

26th February 2022

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich gives trustees stewardship of the club amid Ukraine pressure and growing calls for sanctions on his wealth.

What are sanctions?

Sanctions are coercive measures that can be applied to diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between states. Commonly non-military in nature, they are imposed by one state against another (unilateral sanctions) or by an international organisation, such as the United Nations (collective sanctions). - The Conversation 

27th February 2022

England says will not play against Russia over Ukraine invasion.

England’s FA said they “wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership" after its invasion of Ukraine.”

28th February 2022

FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia from all competitions until further notice.

A statement read: “Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

Impact of suspension:

  • Russia’s national football team will not be able to face Poland in a World Cup play-off semi-final

  • Russia’s national women’s team will also be barred from this summer’s European Championship in England

  • Spartak Moscow will no longer compete in the Europa League.

Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

28th February 2022

Spartak Moscow is removed from the Europa League following UEFA’s decision to suspend Russia from all competitions.

The Moscow club released a statement that read: "Spartak has millions of fans not only in Russia, but all over the world. Our successes and failures bring people from dozens of different countries together.

We believe that sport, even in the most difficult times, should aim to build bridges, and not burn them. We are forced to obey a decision that we do not agree with.”

1st March 2022

Lokomotiv Moscow head coach Markus Gisdol resigns in protest against Russian invasion.

Gisdol told German outlet Bild that he is "absolutely convinced" he made the right decision.

"Football coaching is the best job in the world. But I can't pursue my calling in a country whose leader is responsible for a war of aggression in the middle of Europe.”

2nd March 2022

Roman Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, confirmed he will sell the London club and donate all net proceeds from the sale to a charitable foundation ‘for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine’.

Surprisingly, the Russian billionaire has said in a club statement, he will write off the £1.5bn in loans owed to him by the club. Prior to the announcement, Abramovich had previously passed the “stewardship and care” of the club to its board of trustees.


25th February 2022

Alex Ovechkin, Russian Captain of the NHL’s Washington Capitals calls for ‘no more war’.

Ovechkin is known for being one of the greatest ever Russian hockey players of all time and pro-Putin. The Russian hockey player started a pro-Putin social movement called Putin Team, however when asked if he supported Putin’s political beliefs, Ovechkin said, “It's not about political stuff”.

28th February 2022

NHL suspends all business dealings with Russia.

In a statement, the NHL said:

“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL."

28th February 2022

International Ice Hockey Federation suspends Russian, Belarusian teams until further notice.

International Olympic Committee

25th February 2022

The IOC called for sports bodies to cancel or move all events they plan to hold in Russia and Belarus and to stop using the countries' flags and national anthems.

28th February 2022

The IOC recommends an international event ban for Russian and Belarusian athletes following the invasion of Ukraine.

The invasion breached the Olympic Truce, which is a resolution aimed at securing safe passage for athletes during games and, in the long term, promoting global peace. It was the third Russian breach of the Olympic Truce in the past 14 years.

Martial arts

27th February 2022

President Vladimir Putin is suspended as Honorary President and Ambassador of the International Judo Federation.


24th February 2022

Haas decides to drop Russian partner Uralkali as their title sponsor amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The announcement prompted concerns that Russian driver Nikita Mazepin faced an uncertain future as his F1 seat was ‘booked’ through his father’s heavy investment into the constructor. Team principal Guenther Steiner has admitted that were it not for Dmitry Mazepin's investment, Nikita Mazepin would not have his seat. Dmitry Mazepin, part-owns Uralkali and is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Did you know, in 2018 Dmitry Mazepin attempted to acquire Force India but lost out to a consortium of investors led by Lawrence Stroll?

25th February 2022

Formula One cancels the 2022 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi after recent champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel both said they would not go to Russia.

28th February 2022

Ukraine’s motorsports federation calls for a ban on Russian drivers. Haas driver Nikita Mazepin currently competes on a Russian licence but under a neutral flag (as a result of doping sanctions imposed on Russia).

The motorsports federation called on the FIA to ban all Russian and Belarusian licence holders from taking part in its competitions.

28th February 2022

FIA calls an extraordinary meeting following the invasion of Ukraine.


1st March 2022

Former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat speaks out against Ukraine but also “unfair” banning of Russian athletes.

“I really hope for a peaceful solution to this situation in Ukraine, and that we can all live in peace.

I also would like to highlight and address all sports federations across the world including IOC that sport should remain outside politics and disallowing Russian athletes and teams from participating in world competitions is an unfair solution and goes against what sport teaches us in its principle - the unity and peace.”

2nd March 2022

FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem said in a statement, “We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our thoughts are with all those suffering” following a decision to allow Mazepin to race under a neutral flag.


28th February 2022

World Rugby confirms sporting sanctions for Russia and Belarus taking a strong stance against the conflict. The World Rugby Executive Committee decided:

  • The full and immediate suspension of Russia and Belarus from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby activities until further notice; and

  • The full and immediate suspension of the Rugby Union of Russia from World Rugby membership until further notice.

"World Rugby reiterates its condemnation of Russia's aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus.”


25th February 2022

The International Ski Federation has announced Russia will not host any more of its World Cup events this winter, prompting a shake up of the ski calendar.

1st March 2022

Cross-country skiing-Norwegian Association bans Russian and Belarusian athletes

The Norwegian governing body said in a statement: "The Norwegian Ski Association has today informed the International Ski Federation (FIS) that the upcoming events in Norway will be carried out without Russian and Belarusian participation, regardless of what conclusion FIS should come to”.


28th February 2022

The International Swimming Federation cancels the World Junior Championships in Russia.


To read more on what sports have banned Russians:


bottom of page