Sports and the invasion of Ukraine
The GIST: The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine is sending shockwaves across the globe, and the sports world certainly isn’t exempt.
The response: The reaction was widespread across the global game of soccer. Barcelona and Napoli men’s players displayed a “Stop War” banner before yesterday’s Europa League match, German club Schalke removed the logo of a state-owned Russian energy company from their jerseys and UEFA is expected to move the men’s Champions League final out of St. Petersburg.
- Plus, Poland, Sweden and Czechia — who have World Cup Qualifiers scheduled in Russia next month — issued a joint statement saying they won’t play there.
- Elsewhere, F1 star Sebastian Vettel said he won’t race at this year’s Russian Grand Prix, while the Haas F1 team has removed all Russian sponsor logos from their cars. A s(w)erve.
On the ground: WNBA players who were playing in Ukraine are no longer in the country, but players in Russia — including Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale (pronounced ah-REE-kay oh-goon-bow-WAH-lay) — are still overseas and enduring this horrific reality.
- And some men’s Brazilian soccer players on Ukrainian clubs remain stuck in the country due to the attack. Terrifying.
- Meanwhile, many Ukrainian athletes are speaking out against the invasion. Soccer star Viktor Tsyhankov took to Instagram and wrote, “This is our home and no one will take it away from us.”
The bigger picture: Sports are often seen as a unifying force and an opportunity to escape from the world. But, as we’ve said time and time again, they’re also inherently political.
- And, as seen with last night’s matchup between Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin (a noted supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin) and NY Ranger Artemi Panarin (a vocal critic of the president), sports can embody these global tensions.
- This invasion is far from over, and neither is its ripple effect on sports. Unfortunately, there’ll be much more to come.