With Covid-19 showing signs of loosening its grip across the globe, another man-made disaster has taken the place of the dreaded virus presently: The Russia-Ukraine conflict. The undesirable aggression on the part of Moscow means that the world economies, signalling gradual recovery post the pandemic blues, are certain to come under severe duress yet again. Let us leave the monetary repercussions across the world to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) but focus on how the Russian adventure is going to impact the world of sports, especially football, as World Cup qualifiers (some) and UEFA Champions League final are supposed to be held in Russia, which has presently come under FIFA sanctions.
Suspension Of Ukraine Premier League
After the winter break, Ukraine Premier League was all set to kick-off but with the country coming under Martial Law, following the Russian aggression, the competition stands suspended for now. The embargo usually remains for 30 days, but with the bloody assault on Ukraine escalating on a daily basis, the resumption of the premier league is sure to get further delayed. “I hope this war started by people with no brains will be stopped as soon as possible. I never thought it possible that this war would start,” these words by Mirceu Lucescu, Dynamo Kyiv manager, echoes the general feeling prevailing in the world now.
Champions League Final Moved To Paris
The game’s European Governing body UEFA has come hard on Russia by taking away the Champions League final from Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena. The match scheduled to take place on May 28 will now take place in Stade De France, Paris. As a fallout of the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, UEFA will also have to shun the lucrative deal it had with Gazprom, an energy company supported by Russia. All in all, the current unfortunate situation has so far had a far-reaching consequence for the “beautiful game”.
World Cup Qualifiers In Disarray
Qualifying games for the FIFA Qatar World Cup could also be affected due to the raging war in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine will also be fighting out to seal a spot in the quadrennial event in the Gulf country. But with FIFA acting tough on Russia by directing the country to play the qualifying matches at neutral venues, where both their anthem and flag will be a strict no, the fixed schedules can easily go haywire. The games governing body has also decreed that the Russian team will henceforth be known as the Football Union of Russia.
To add to the complexities, Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic have refused to play with Russia in the qualifying fixtures and they also find FIFA’s punitive measures against Russia inadequate. Poland were supposed to square off with Moscow on March 24, and then the winner would have hosted either Czech or Sweden later on. But with anger mounting on Russia in a big way currently, there is a big question mark over some of the qualifiers.
Well, these are early days but with Russia adamant on having its way in Ukraine it is nearly impossible to see a peaceful solution in sight right now. Apart from FIFA, the Swimming Governing body FINA, expressing solidarity with Ukraine, has cancelled the World Junior Championship scheduled to take place in Moscow in August. In such a scenario, it is not advisable to place a bet on the future, however, one thing is for sure: Russia might end up being a pariah for the rest of the world if the situation in Ukraine goes from bad to worse. And this will not just be in matters of sports.