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UEFA and F1 punish Russia amid efforts to rescue Ukraine football stars

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The sporting world has punished Russia for invading Ukraine by cancelling two major international events that were set to be held in the country.

European football's governing body UEFA announced on Friday that the 2022 Champions League final will be moved from Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, Russia to Stade de France in Paris, France. The match will be played on May 28.

"The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe," the body said in a statement.

UEFA said it had been forced to act after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on Thursday. It also thanked French President Emmanuel Macron “for his personal support and commitment to have European club football's most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis”.

UEFA added that it would support efforts to rescue football players and their families in Ukraine “who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement”.

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Meanwhile, Formula 1 also confirmed that the Russian Grand Prix will not be held this season.

The event was scheduled to be held at the Sochi circuit from September 23 to 25.

“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together. We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation,” Formula 1 said in a statement.

It added: “On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”

German driver Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday that he would boycott the race. “My own opinion is I should not go, I will not go,” said Vettel, who is head of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

Meanwhile, F1 team Haas dropped Russian sponsor Uralkali and will race in an all-white car, though Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will continue to drive for the team. Mazepin’s father Dmitri owns Uralkali, a Russian chemical company.

A statement said: "Haas F1 Team will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, minus Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of track running at Circuit de Barcelona on Friday 25 February.”

Haas added, "Nikita Mazepin will drive as planned in the morning session with Mick Schumacher taking over in the afternoon. No further comment will be made at this time regarding team partner agreements."

Published : February 26, 2022

By : THE NATION