London (AFP) – The Premier League announced Tuesday it was suspending its deal with its Russian broadcast partner following the invasion of Ukraine.
The decision was made at a shareholders’ meeting in London, where all 20 clubs were in agreement.
In a separate move, the Football Association has also suspended its deal with Russia, meaning this month’s FA Cup quarter-finals will not be shown while the English Football League has withdrawn broadcast access in the country.
The Premier League said it would also donate £1 million ($1.3 million) to support the people affected by the war in Ukraine.
“The Premier League and its clubs today unanimously agreed to suspend our agreement with Russian broadcast partner Rambler (Okko Sport) with immediate effect and to donate £1 million to support the people of Ukraine,” a statement issued by England’s top flight said.
“The league strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those impacted.
The £1 million donation will be made to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to deliver humanitarian aid directly to those in need.”
Clubs and fans showed their support for Ukraine during weekend’s matches across the Premier League.
All club captains wore special armbands and fans joined players, managers, match officials and club staff in a moment of reflection and solidarity before kick-off at each match.
Big screens displayed “Football Stands Together” against the backdrop of the blue-and-yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Chinese rights holders pulled their coverage of those matches in anticipation of the show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Beijing has been treading a cautious diplomatic line on the conflict, refusing to condemn the acts of its close partner Moscow.
The Football Association has also suspended its partnership with Russian broadcasters Match over rights for the FA Cup with immediate effect, the PA news agency reported.
EFL matches or club content will no longer be available in Russia after EFL chiefs stopped access to iFollow and other streaming services.
A statement read: “Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in the region, the EFL has suspended the broadcast feeds of its matches in the Russian Federation.
“Access to the EFL’s iFollow service and other club streaming services have also been withdrawn in the territory.”
The British government has endorsed the Premier League’s decision, with sports minister Nigel Huddleston saying sport must play its part in response to Putin’s “barbaric” actions.
He said: “This is absolutely the right thing to do and we fully support the Premier League’s decision to stop broadcasting matches in Russia in response to Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia cannot be allowed to legitimise its illegal war through sport and culture.”
Scotland’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine, scheduled for March 24 in Glasgow, has reportedly been postponed following a request from Ukraine.
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