Ukraine: sport is a weapon against Putin if the authorities can bite the financial bullet

Vladimir Putin’s Hitler-style invasion of Ukraine – it’s straight from the 1930’s playbook of Czechoslovakia and Poland (Russia came later, of course) – is a problem for everyone. But what do you do?

It’s a problem for those multinationals, including agencies, that have operations in Russia and, indeed, Ukraine. But most big ad holding companies have plenty of Russian-backed companies on their books and they need to do something about it. Resigning them is the only decent response.

That won’t especially hurt Vlad and his klepto pals but agencies of various kinds play a big role in sport these days and that could be made to hurt.

The sporting authorities shamelessly chase money, however bloodstained it may be. Reference the recent Winter Olympics in Beijing, Sochi in Russia before then and the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar (Russia hosted it recently too.). But even they must be reviewing matters now.

Energy giant Gazprom sponsors the Champions League. The next final is in St Petersburg. UEFA should can both arrangements forthwith although, doubtless, there’ll be an array of highly-priced British QCs eager to sue them. The players should surely act too by refusing to play Russian teams at either club or national level.

They say a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you something. Will sport’s handmaidens be prepared to make that choice?


Mercifully there has been some movement, such as moving the Champions League final. Those old pals of Russia FIFA are still dragging their heels though.

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