UEFA, the apex governing body for football in Europe, is reportedly looking for legal advice to sever ties with Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy giant that is a major sponsor of the governing body, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
UEFA held an emergency executive committee meeting on Friday and decided to shift the venue of the Champions League final from the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris, and it reports suggest UEFA’s ties with Gazprom were also discussed.
As per the Daily Mail, Gazprom spends approximately £34 million per year sponsoring various UEFA tournaments, including premier club tournaments like the Champions League, as well as international tournaments such as the Euros and the Nations League.
Last year, Gazprom signed a three-year sponsorship deal with UEFA, reportedly for around £33.5 million, and it remains to be seen how UEFA intends to proceed.
The news comes after Gazprom suffered another major blow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hours after Russian troops marched into Ukraine on Thursday morning, Bundesliga club Schalke announced that it would be removing the Gazprom logo from their jerseys.
“Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club’s shirts. It will be replaced by lettering reading ‘Schalke 04’ instead,” the club said in a statement.
Sporting entities around the world have responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by ending partnerships with Russian firms or cancelling events in Russia. Manchester United earlier cancelled a sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot, while Formula One and the International Ski Federation (FIS) have also cancelled all events in Russia.