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Russia: United axe Aeroflot, UEFA move Champions League final and F1 scraps Sochi Grand Prix

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The sporting world has continued with their firm stance against Russia today by axing two of their big events later this year.

Vladimir Putin’s country lost the Champions League final to Paris this morning and hours later their Formula One Grand Prix was scrapped.

The world of sport turned on Russia on Thursday after she declared war on Ukraine and officials have now punished them for their invasion.

It was reported that Saint Petersburg was due to be stripped of the Champions League final and that was confirmed on Friday morning with Paris replacing it as European club football’s showpiece host. 

UEFA moved the occasion at the end of the season on May 28 from the Gazprom Arena in the Russian city to the Stade de France after an emergency meeting of its executive committee.

Then, just hours later Russia was handed further punishment as the Sochi Grand Prix in September was axed.

After initially stalling on a decision by saying they were monitoring the situation ‘very closely’, F1 officials decided to pull the plug on the race, due to be held on September 25.

Meanwhile, Everton are set to remove their air raid siren ahead of their Premier League match with Manchester City this weekend, all football matches in Italy will be delayed in protest and soon-to-been world No 1 Daniil Medvedev just wants peace.

Here’s how the world of sport reacted to Russian troops arriving in Kyiv as it abandons Putin’s homeland…

Soldiers tasked with defending Kyiv from advancing Russian troops take up positions in city

Soldiers tasked with defending Kyiv from advancing Russian troops take up positions in city

Everton fans to unveil ‘We stand with Ukraine’ banner in show of support for the Ukrainian international Vitaliy Mykolenko before game against Manchester City 

Everton fans plan to unveil a banner in support of Ukraine international defender Vitaliy Mykolenko at Saturday’s home game against Manchester City. 

Evertonians will show off the tribute before the 5.30pm kick-off at Goodison Park.

It will feature a picture of the 22-year-old in his national team’s kit with the words ‘We Stand With Ukraine’.

Everton fans will display a banner in support of left-back Vitalii Mykolenko (centre) and Ukraine

Everton fans will display a banner in support of left-back Vitalii Mykolenko (centre) and Ukraine

On Twitter, the account for the 27 Years Campaign (@27yearsCampaign) wrote: ‘#WeStandWithUkraine

‘Big thank you to @DaffoEFC and all involved for designing this banner which will be displayed in Goodison Park against Manchester City.’ 

Everton manager Frank Lampard said Mykolenko is being given all the support he needs. 

The defender wrote in a post on Instagram on Thursday about hearing ‘the anxious voice of my parents who are looking for an opportunity to protect themselves’ in their homeland after the Russian invasion.

Manager Frank Lampard will monitor the Ukrainian left-back before deciding on his team

Manager Frank Lampard will monitor the Ukrainian left-back before deciding on his team

Russia launching an all-out attack to invade Zinchenko's home country Ukraine on Thursday

Russia launching an all-out attack to invade Zinchenko’s home country Ukraine on Thursday

‘He is OK. I’ve spoken to him, the club have spoken to him,’ said Lampard. 

‘He has every bit of support we can possibly give him from our end in terms of personal touch, club support if and when he needs it.

‘Who knows how we can help him? It is ultra-important he feels that from us.

‘The decision whether he plays or is available is for me and him to speak about.’

Russia’s Grand Prix is AXED from the Formula One calendar just hours after they lost the Champions League final to Paris as sport turns on Vladimir Putin’s country following war on Ukraine

The Russian Grand Prix will not be part of the Formula One season this year after the sport’s bosses decided to remove it from its calendar following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Sochi Grand Prix and called for F1 chiefs to axe it from its 2022 calendar as he became the first driver to speak out against Russia on Thursday.  

The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi has been axed for this season's Formula One campaign

The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi has been axed for this season’s Formula One campaign

Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Sochi Grand Prix following Russia's invasion

Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Sochi Grand Prix following Russia’s invasion

A statement on Friday afternoon read: ‘The FIA Formula One World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together. 

‘We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.

‘On Thursday evening Formula One, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.’

F1 team Haas removed Russian sponsor Uralkali's branding from its car and run it in an all-white livery on the final day of Barcelona testing on Friday

F1 team Haas removed Russian sponsor Uralkali’s branding from its car and run it in an all-white livery on the final day of Barcelona testing on Friday

F1 acted after CEO Stefano Domenicali chaired a crisis summit with its governing body, the FIA, and the sport’s team bosses on Thursday night.

It is unclear at this stage if the race will be replaced, but Turkey’s Istanbul Park has been mooted as a contender to fill the now vacant slot on the calendar. 

The Russian Grand Prix was added to F1’s calendar in 2014, with the circuit designed to race around Sochi’s Olympic Park, which hosted that year’s Winter Games.

Manchester United CANCEL their £40m sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot after the country declared war on Ukraine

Manchester United have cancelled their massive £40million sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot. 

The move is in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and comes after United flew to Madrid on Tuesday with Titan Airways. 

A United Spokesperson said: ‘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.’ 

United stars Edinson Cavani (left) and Nemanja Matic (right) pictured on an Aeroflot flight

United stars Edinson Cavani (left) and Nemanja Matic (right) pictured on an Aeroflot flight

The team had a longstanding commercial agreement having first linked up with the Russian company in 2013 but have now severed ties.

United’s deal with Aeroflot was renewed in 2017 to the tune of £40m and was due to expire in 2023. Aeroflot is the national airline of and flies to 146 destinations across 52 countries.

In addition to flying the United stars all over the world, Aeroflot also provided the club with travel and logistical advice but United are now in the market for a new flight partner, with Qatar Airways under consideration. 

United banked in the region of £100m in total from their nine-year association with Aeroflot. 

Interestingly, United’s share price dropped following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it was speculated that it could have been down to their association with Aeroflot. 

As of Thursday, in two weeks the share price had fallen from $14.08 a share to $13.10, a dip of seven per cent. 

In their nine-year association with Aeroflot, United banked £100million from the deal

In their nine-year association with Aeroflot, United banked £100million from the deal

Paris will host the Champions League final, with UEFA bosses moving the game to the Stade de France after pulling it from Russia over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine 

Saint Petersburg has been stripped of the Champions League final in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Paris given the showpiece event instead.

UEFA confirmed European club football’s showpiece occasion on Saturday, May 28 will be moved to Paris from the Gazprom Arena in the Russian city after an emergency meeting of its executive committee was convened this morning.  

Four Premier League clubs remain in the competition at the last-16 stage with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City taking leads into next month’s second leg ties and Manchester United level with Atletico Madrid. 

The 2022 Champions League final will now be held at the Stade de France in Paris after UEFA stripped Russia of the showpiece following invasion of Ukraine

The 2022 Champions League final will now be held at the Stade de France in Paris after UEFA stripped Russia of the showpiece following invasion of Ukraine 

Paris’ Stade de France, which last held the Champions League final 16 years ago when Barcelona beat Arsenal, will now play host to the European showpiece at the end of the football season. 

The Kremlin reacted to the decision soon afterwards, claiming that St Petersburg would have offered ‘the best possible conditions’ for the showpiece event.

‘It is a shame that such a decision was made,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

‘Saint Petersburg could have provided the best possible conditions for holding this football event.’ 

The 65,000-capacity Gazprom Arena was due to host this season’s showpiece event

The UK government immediately endorsed the decision to strip Russia of the final. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘I welcome UEFA’s decisive action to strip St Petersburg of staging this year’s Champions League Final.

‘Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimise its unprovoked, premeditated and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state.’ 

Russian and Ukrainian club and national teams will play home games at neutral venues, UEFA also announced. 

Spartak Moscow are set to be impacted as they’re still in the Europa League and will face RB Leipzig in the last-16 next month, while Russia and Ukraine feature in the 2022-23 Nations League taking place in June. 

While the uncertainty surrounding next month’s World Cup play-off matches remains with FIFA yet to make a decision.

Russia welcome Poland on March 24 while Sweden also face the Czech Republic in the semi-finals of the competition in Russia.  

REVEALED: Everton are set to SILENCE their popular pre-match air raid siren for tomorrow’s match against Manchester City after the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Everton are set to silence their pre-match air raid siren when they face Manchester City on Saturday.

Air raid sirens were heard going off in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a ‘special military operation’.

And in light of the invasion, the Toffees are set to go without part of their pre-match routine at Goodison Park in tomorrow’s late kick-off in the Premier League.

Everton are set to silence their pre-match air raid siren when they face Manchester City

Everton are set to silence their pre-match air raid siren when they face Manchester City

Barcelona and Napoli players come together in front of a ‘Stop War’ banner

Before their Europa League play-off second-leg in southern Italy, Barcelona and Napoli players came together in a peaceful action before kick-off – with all 22 players standing in front of a banner condemning Russia’s actions.

 

The Merseyside outfit introduced a new pre-match initiative in 2019 in which, instead of a normal rendition of Z Cars, former boxer Tony Bellew’s ring-walk version is played instead – including the air raid siren before the drums begin.

It was played for the first time ahead of a goalless Merseyside derby stalemate with Liverpool nearly three years ago, and the change has gone down a treat with Toffees fans ever since. 

But while there is likely to be no air raid siren played on Saturday, there could be protests against the Russian invasion at grounds across the country by displaying Ukraine flags in a show of solidarity for the besieged nation.

It comes as the Premier League’s Ukrainian players voiced their anguish on social media, including Everton’s Vitalii Mykolenko.

Toffees fans will be among those that will display a banner in support of Ukraine – and their 22-year-old defender – this weekend.

The FA will not consider the presence of flags on the pitch or in the stands as a breach of their rules. The governing body usually prohibit anything construed as a political message. 

The FA however will monitor activities in all their fixtures this weekend and will investigate players or officials who protest on a case-by-case basis. 

Should any players reveal politically charged shirts in reference to the Russian invasion, they will be liable to sanctions, though displaying the Ukraine flag will not get clubs into trouble.

Sportsmail contacted FIFA, who did not respond. The world governing body previously told competition organisers to apply ‘common sense’ when considering whether to punish players.

The Merseyside outfit introduced the air raid siren to their rendition of Z Cars in 2019

The Merseyside outfit introduced the air raid siren to their rendition of Z Cars in 2019

‘They’re killing people, civilians, in hospitals, and it’s all Putin’s fault’: Sporting Gijon’s Ukrainian defender Vasyl Kravets says he wants to go to war now even though he can’t even load a gun

A Ukrainian footballer playing in Spain has revealed he wants to go to war, and is willing to put his career on hold to do so. 

Vasyl Kravets has been excused from training with his team-mates at second-division side Sporting Gijon following Russia’s invasion of his country on Thursday morning.  

The left-back has revealed in a heartfelt interview that he is willing to go to war even though he does not know how to reload a gun, and placing all the blame of the events on Russia’s president.

Sporting Gijon's Ukrainian defender Vasyl Kravets has revealed he wants to go to war, and is willing to put his career on hold to do so

Sporting Gijon’s Ukrainian defender Vasyl Kravets has revealed he wants to go to war, and is willing to put his career on hold to do so

‘They are killing people, civilians, in hospitals… it’s all Putin’s fault, I don’t want to say it’s Russia’s fault, but Putin’s,’ Kravets told Spanish outlet Radio Marca.

‘We are a country that wants to live in peace. We don’t want to attack anyone, we want to live well and calm. I tell the truth: I want to go to war and help my people. 

‘But I can’t help because I don’t know how to shoot, how to move, how to reload a gun…but the truth is that I want to help.

‘If I could go, I would – to defend my country. It is obligatory for the heart of Ukrainians.’

The 24-year-old defender: ‘Almost all our airports are blocked. If my country needs everyone to defend our country, I’m leaving. I’ll talk to Sporting and I’ll leave.’

Kravets (right) has been capped by Ukraine's U21s and is currently on loan at Sporting Gijon from Leganes

Kravets (right) has been capped by Ukraine’s U21s and is currently on loan at Sporting Gijon from Leganes

Kravets went on to explain the horrific issues his family who are in Ukraine face, admitting his concern for his loved ones is keeping him awake at night.

‘I call and say: ‘cheer up’ and they say ‘thank you’ but I can’t do anything else. And after 30 minutes… I call again,’ Kravets added.

‘I don’t sleep at all. My mother calls me, she hears gunshots… I’m training but I only think about my country, my family…

‘My wife cries 8 or 10 times a day, it’s incredible, they are scared to death.’ 

Kravets continued: ‘It’s Putin’s fault, only Putin’s’

‘Some country has to enter Ukraine with its weapons. We are strong but we need help. We don’t want to die, and we don’t want to kill.’

Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev says ‘I’m all for peace’ after his country invaded Ukraine as he admits ‘it was not easy to hear the news and play’ on ‘roller-coaster’ day he was confirmed world No 1

Russian Daniil Medvedev said he wanted to promote peace around the world after a ‘roller-coaster day’ when he was confirmed as the world’s top tennis player and his country invaded Ukraine.

US Open champion Medvedev, who took the court in Acapulco, Mexico, hours after Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final loss in Dubai meant the Russian would replace him at the top of the men’s rankings on Monday, said it was not easy watching the news.

‘By being a tennis player I want to promote peace all over the world,’ the 26-year-old said after reaching the semi-finals at the ATP 500 tournament by defeating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

Tennis star Daniil Medvedev wants to promote peace after Russia declared war on Ukraine

Tennis star Daniil Medvedev wants to promote peace after Russia declared war on Ukraine

‘We play in so many different countries. I’ve been in so many different countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.’

Medvedev’s compatriot, Andrey Rublev, ranked seventh in the world, paired up with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov to win a doubles title in Marseille last week.

‘This was amazing because I think people need to stay together and that’s the most important,’ Medvedev said, referring to the partnership between Rublev and Molchanov.

‘In this moment, you understand that tennis sometimes is not that important,’ he said, though adding he wanted to win his match.

‘It was definitely not easy to play and I am happy that I managed to win the match. That was a little bit of a roller-coaster day.’

Italian FA confirm all football matches in the country will start five minutes late this weekend in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… as body’s president Gabriele Gravina says: ‘Sport is not about politics, but it wants peace’

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed the start of football matches across the country this weekend will be postponed by five minutes as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Italy’s national football governing body has now taken action and has confirmed the games will now kick-off five minutes later than had been scheduled.

A FIGC statement read: ‘Italian football takes the field united for peace. This is the message that the Italian Football Federation wants to send in such a complex moment for international equilibrium by deciding to postpone the kick-off of all the official matches scheduled for the weekend by five minutes. 

The start of all football matches in Italy will be delayed by five minutes this weekend as a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine

The start of all football matches in Italy will be delayed by five minutes this weekend as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

‘Without distinction, professionals and amateurs, will unite in a single witness of peace, raising awareness among fans and supporters on respect for human life and on the need to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.’

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina added: ‘The universal values ​​of sport require us to reflect, we do not want to turn the other way.

‘Interpreting a widespread sentiment in Italian public opinion, which also crosses our world, we want to send a clear message: the national football movement is sensitive and very concerned about what is happening in these hours.

‘Sport is not about politics, but it wants peace.’

The protest will be implemented today, when table-toppers AC Milan face Udinese in the early evening in the first match of the Serie A weekend.

The measure will also be extended to Serie B, Serie C and all the games in the minor leagues.

The invasion ordered by Vladimir Putin has drawn condemnation from all over the globe

The invasion ordered by Vladimir Putin has drawn condemnation from all over the globe

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