SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona Feb. 24 2022

The world of football reacts to Russia’s war on Ukraine

Across leagues and countries and beyond football, the sports world has stepped up to support peace and love.

March is a time when we should be starting to think Spring-like thoughts with heaps of optimism and excitement for what is to come.

The city is moving further and further away from the past two years worth of lockdowns, curfews, too many rules to count and small business beat-downs. We should be talking about exciting things in the world of football, like Team Canada’s rise in the world ranking and being on the verge of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, Chelsea FC winning the FIFA Club World Cup, Liverpool FC winning the Carabao Cup, the new 2022–23 MLS & CFM season has kicked off a few days ago but we will not talk about that.

Everything that I would normally want to put in this piece seems quite trivial compared with what is actually happening in the world right now.

In the last week of February, the world got flipped upside down once again with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the world of football has stepped up to support peace and love in these trying times.

In response to the aggression in Eastern Europe, the 2022 Champions League will finally be played in Paris after UEFA, European football’s governing body, moved the match away from St. Petersburg.

FIFA has announced that they have suspended all Russian men and women’s teams from international competition.

“Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice.”


Poland will boycott their World Cup playoff against Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine, with captain Robert Lewandowski saying, “We can’t pretend that nothing is happening.” The Polish football association president Cezary Kulesza has said the team “does not intend” to play the game.

UEFA ordered Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams to play their home matches away from the region “until further notice,” so that means neutral ground. UEFA is ending its major £30m-a-year sponsorship deal with Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom. Manchester United have terminated their sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot. On Thursday, football clubs, players and fans showed their support for Ukraine with anti-war T-shirts and banners. England will not play any international matches against Russia at any level following the invasion.

Other sports have made moves as well: Russia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, which was due to take place in Sochi in September, is now cancelled. International Sports Federations were urged to move or cancel events currently planned in Russia or Belarus by the International Olympic Committee. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) postponed the World Cup 2023 qualifiers involving Netherlands v Russia on Feb. 27 and Great Britain v Belarus on Feb. 28.

I hope that when we meet again in April, the subject matter, the focus of football and the world will have shifted to a more positive path forward.

Football and war have been famously linked since World War I, when there was a Christmas Day truce in 1914.


An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

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