The sporting world continues to step up as dozens of civilians were killed and hundreds wounded after Russian rocket artillery opened fire on Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv on Monday.
Vladimir Putin’s country was punished for declaring war on Ukraine last week by losing the Champions League final to Paris and the Sochi Grand Prix being axed by Formula One bosses altogether.
While over the weekend, in what is viewed as the best football league in the world, watched by millions globally, Premier League clubs acted.
West Ham players warmed up in supportive shirts for Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko after he was granted compassionate leave while their opponents Wolves wore ‘No To War’ shirts in their match on Sunday.
Liverpool and Chelsea players stood in solidarity with Ukraine moments before their Carabao Cup final kicked off at Wembley, which was just hours after Blues owner Roman Abramovich relinquished control of the club.
On Saturday, players from Manchester United and Watford held a banner of the peace symbol with the word written in numerous languages including Russian and Ukrainian.
Crystal Palace displayed their support on the Selhurst Park big screen and Aston Villa’s Matty Cash revealed a shirt in support of his Polish team-mate who plays for Dynamo Kyiv.
And today those within football have gone on the attack and stood up with Spartak Moscow set to be removed from the Europa League as both UEFA and FIFA have come under increasing pressure to take action.
Here is the world of football’s latest response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…
Smoke billows over the town of Vasylkiv just outside Kyiv after an oil refinery was struck by a Russian missile
Smoke rises over Kyiv on Monday morning as the city awoke from a night of heavy Russian bombardment to relative calm, though there are fears that Moscow’s troops could quickly step up their attacks
FIFA THROW Russia out of the World Cup while UEFA also boot Spartak Moscow from the Europa League and terminate its £33m-a-year deal with energy giants Gazprom
World governing body FIFA acted on Monday to boot Russia out of the World Cup after releasing a joint statement with UEFA over Russian sides playing in international competition.
The Russian men’s national team were scheduled to play Poland in a play-off for Qatar 2022 on March 24 – a match Poland said they would boycott – but the Poles have now been given a bye to the next round of qualifying.
Russian side Spartak Moscow have also been kicked out of the Europa League due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Russia team, pictured at Euro 2020 last year, have been kicked out of the FIFA World Cup
Their opponents RB Leipzig will too get an automatic bye to the quarter-finals.
Europe’s football governing body had already banned Moscow for playing their home leg due to the current circumstances, but have since decided to take further measures and kick them out of the competition.
Club chief Oliver Mintzlaff had said: ‘We continue to be in close contact with the associations and have complete confidence in UEFA and their decision.
‘We assume that the games will be cancelled.’
Spartak Moscow have reportedly been kicked out of the Europa League by UEFA due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The first leg was scheduled for March 10, with the return tie originally meant to be played seven days later on March 17.
Spartak Moscow were a seeded club in the last-sixteen draw after winning their group, meaning the second-leg against RB Leipzig was scheduled to be in the Russian capital.
Leipzig had previously announced: ‘RB is currently in intensive talks with Uefa about how to proceed in the round of 16 games in the Europa League against Spartak Moscow and assumes that the association will make a decision in the near future.’
Meanwhile UEFA have also cancelled their £33m-per-year deal with energy giants Gazprom who helped sponsor their Champions League coverage.
The terrifying ordeal of Brazil’s footballers escaping Ukraine: From a hotel basement bunker to safety in Bucharest, via a 16-hour train and seven-hour bus… how the Dynamo and Shakhtar stars got out
International footballers trapped in the Ukraine capital Kyiv have made it out of the country in a desperate dash for the border with their families, after the head of UEFA Aleksander Ceferin personally intervened.
The players, including members of Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, had taken refuge in a hotel in the capital city after Russia attacked the eastern European country.
But as the days ticked by and the situation in Ukraine grew more desperate, it became clear they had to leave but they could not get out and were forced hide in the basement bunker of the luxury accommodation.
The group included players from Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv, who were in a hotel in the Ukrainian capital after Russia invaded the country
The group, which included 50 people, including 14 players, released a video clip showing themselves holed up with a desperate appeal for help from their governments, as food and supplies ran out and the Russian army closed in on the besieged city.
The Shakhtar striker Junior Moraes, 34, sent a message saying: ‘The situation is one of despair.’
But yesterday, the players, wives and children made their escape, first by bus and then on a train to Romania.
‘I have just spoken with Júnior Moraes,’ tweeted journalist Arthur Quezada.
‘Players and families managed to get out of Kiev. They’re on the train to Chernivtsi and then Romania.’
Pedrinho, Shakhtar’s (R) 23-year-old midfielder, pictured playing for Brazil U23, made it out of Kyiv
There are a dozen Brazilian players in the Shakhtar squad, including Moraes was born in Brazil but is a Ukraine international, while the forward Vitinho plays for Dynamo Kyiv.
David Neres, a Brazil international, had just completed a transfer from Dutch club Ajax to Shakhtar last month.
Other Brazilian players in Shakhtar’s squad are defenders Dodo, Vitao, Marlon, Ismaily and Vinicius Tobias, plus midfielders Maycon, Marcos Antonio, Tete, Alan Patrick, Pedrinho and Fernando.
The footballers are among more than 500,000 refugees, mainly women and children, who are fleeing Ukraine for the West, with some children separated or even orphaned since the invasion began. Queues of up to 25 miles are reported at the border with Poland.
The players and their families first made a short dash in a convoy of cars to the train station, flying Brazil flags from wing mirrors and windows in the hope it would identify them as neutrals and ensure their safety. They feared what could happen if they missed the train and were stranded in the city.
West Ham star Andriy Yarmolenko ‘donates £75,000 to Ukraine’s Armed Forces’ to help defend his country in the wake of Russia’s invasion… just hours after missing his side’s win over Wolves on compassionate leave
West Ham’s Ukrainian striker Andriy Yarmolenko has reportedly made a huge £75,000 donation to his country’s Armed Forces in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
Yarmolenko is his country’s third most-capped player of all-time and appears to have dipped deep into his pocket to support the army as they fight to keep control of their homeland, with Russian troops crossing the border last week.
The 32-year-old was granted compassionate leave by West Ham on Sunday and he therefore missed the win over Wolves, but all of his team-mates wore shirts with his name on the back during their warm-up.
Andriy Yarmolenko has reportedly made a huge £75,000 donation to Ukraine’s Armed Forces
During the match itself, Ukraine flags were held aloft in the stands – and this was also the case at many other games around the Premier League and beyond at the weekend.
Yarmolenko’s selfless donation was posted on Twitter by @ZoryaLondonsk, an account which posts Ukrainian football news in English. The donation was for 3million Ukrainian hryvnia, equivalent to £74,540.
Until 2017, Yarmolenko – who reportedly earns £115,000-a-week at West Ham – plied his trade in Ukraine, most recently at Dynamo Kyiv.
At the London Stadium on Sunday, Yarmolenko’s face was beamed onto the big screens
Declan Rice held a shirt carrying Yarmolenko’s name, with the striker missing the match
He then moved to Borussia Dortmund for a season, before joining the Hammers in 2018.
Yarmolenko was born in Russia to Ukrainian parents, who then moved back to his homeland when he was a child.
Speaking before the match against Wolves on Sunday, West Ham boss David Moyes revealed: ‘He’s not in a very good position at the moment – we’ve given him a few days off.
‘I spoke with him yesterday and he was upset, which you can imagine. We just hope his family keep safe.’
‘They didn’t sign up to be your shield!’: Gary Neville takes aim at ‘cowardly’ Roman Abramovich again over his ‘poor’ move to hand Chelsea over to their charity trustees, despite their reservations about the plans
Gary Neville has taken another swipe at Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich by insisting that charity trustees ‘didn’t sign up to be used as a shield’ after the Russian offered to hand over ‘stewardship and care’ of the club amid the war in Ukraine.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, has attempted to distance himself from the football club after Parliament was told he had been named as a person of interest in 2019 because of alleged links to the Russian state and alleged ‘association with corrupt activity and practices’.
Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Sunday that some of the seven trustees of the Chelsea Foundation, who were only informed of Abramovich’s plans shortly before they were announced on Saturday, have reservations about taking up the offer.
Gary Neville (left) has taken aim at Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (right) over his ‘poor’ judgement to offer to hand ‘stewardship’ of the football club over to the club’s charity trustees
Neville took a swipe at the Russian and said trustees ‘didn’t sign up to be used as a shield’
‘The Trustees didn’t sign up to be used as a shield!’ former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville tweeted.
‘They wanted to assist Chelsea’s efforts in the community.
‘Poor from Abramovich and whoever was advising him.’
Trustees met with the club prior to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool to discuss how the arrangement of ‘stewardship’ would work in practice.
Concerns are believed to include doubts over whether acting as the trustee of a charity is compatible with being given stewardship of the club, uncertainty over the change of role will involve representation on the Board, and fears they could be accused of sportswashing.
The seven trustees are Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes, chairman Bruce Buck. finance director Paul Ramos, World Athletics president Seb Coe, former sports minister Hugh Robertson, anti-racism campaigner Piara Power and lawyer John Devine.
Roman Abramovich tries to broker peace deal in Ukraine: Billionaire Chelsea owner ‘flies to Belarus to assist in talks after request from Kyiv’ amid calls for him to face sanctions
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been named as an unlikely broker in a deal to end the war in Ukraine and has reportedly arrived in Belarus to assist in peace talks, it has today emerged.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire is believed to have flown into the eastern European country ahead of crunch talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials.
It comes as the UK Government faces mounting pressure to sanction him and other oligarchs over Vladimir Putin’s siege of Ukraine.
His role as a broker in the talks has been confirmed by his spokesman, who claimed the mega-rich businessman had become involved after a request from the Jewish community in Kyiv.
The unlikely intervention is also said to have involved Jewish Ukrainian film producer Alexander Rodnyansky – who he has twice been pictured alongside at Russian film festivals.
Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League season in 2017
Mr Abramovich, 55, who is one of Russia’s richest men and is reportedly worth more than £10billion, has come under intense pressure to speak out following the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Last week he was labelled as an enabler of the Putin regime by British MPs in Parliament, amid calls for powerful oligarch ‘with links to the Russian state’ to be hit with greater sanctions.
Mr Abramovich vehemently denies he is close to the Kremlin or has done anything that would merit sanctions being imposed against him.
On Saturday, amid the mounting pressure, Mr Abramovich announced plans to hand over the stewardship of his beloved Chelsea to the club’s charitable trust.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire has come under pressure to speak out following the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s (pictured) forces
The club’s trustees are yet to accept his proposals, while experts have described the move as a ‘PR’ stunt with ‘no legal significance’.
Now, in a surprising development, a spokesman for the club revealed that the businessman has been ‘trying to help’ in brokering a peace deal between his home country of Russia and Ukraine.
‘I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,’ a Chelsea spokesman said.
The spokesman added: ‘Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement.’
From the Bernabeu to a bunker! Sheriff Tiraspol boss Yuriy Vernydub joins Ukraine’s territorial army just five months after defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League as he signs up to help his native country in the war with Russia
Five months to the day since masterminding a Champions League win over Real Madrid, Sheriff Tiraspol manager Yuriy Vernydub has returned to his native Ukraine and signed up to the territorial army.
Vernydub was born in Zhytomyr, a northern city in Ukraine, and has made the decision to return to his homeland from his work managing the football team in Moldova.
A picture posted on social media showed Vernydub in his camouflaged attire, with two army colleagues, as unrest in the country continues following Russia’s invasion last week.
Yuriy Vernydub (centre), who manages Moldovan football team Sheriff Tiraspol, has returned to his native Ukraine and enlisted for the territorial army amid the ongoing war with Russia
Vernydub, 56, will join three-weight boxing world champion Vasyl Lomachenko after he revealed himself in full Ukrainian military uniform having joined the army.
As well as Lomachenko and Vernydub, iconic former Ukrainian boxers Wladimir and Vitaly Klitschko have joined the fight, too.
It has been an incredibly busy few months for Vernydub as he and his players gained global notoriety after defeating Spanish giants Real Madrid in Spain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
‘I have a wife, two children, two grandchildren, brothers and sisters, I wish them health and that this war does not touch them,’ he said last week.
‘When I arrive in Moldova, I will ask to go to my family, if they need my help I will always be there.’
He added: ‘I want to leave a few words of support for the people in Ukraine, who suffered an attack from Russia. I am proud of the people who are defending the country.’
Five months ago, Vernydub (left) celebrated a famous Champions League win over Real Madrid
German club Schalke 04 CANCELS partnership with Russian state-owned sponsor Gazprom after removal of Matthias Warnig – a former Stasi officer and ally of Vladimir Putin – from their board
German football club Schalke 04 have confirmed they are cancelling their partnership with Russian state-owner sponsor Gazprom.
Energy company Gazprom are majority-owned by the Russian state and are major sponsors of the Champions League.
Key to the connection between Schalke and Gazprom has been Nord Stream 2 CEO Matthias Warnig, a former officer in East Germany’s notorious Stasi secret state police and a known ally of Putin’s.
Schalke have cancelled their sponsorship with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned company
Warnig resigned from his position on Schalke’s board last Thursday.
Schalke had already made the decision to remove Gazprom’s name from their shirts ahead of their 1-1 draw with Karlsruher on Saturday.
The logo of their main sponsor was simply replaced with the name of the German side.
Schalke have now released a statement confirming that they have cancelled their partnership with Gazprom altogether.
In doing so, they have ended a partnership which started back in 2007.
A statement from the club read: ‘The board of directors of FC Schalke 04, with the approval of the supervisory board, decided to prematurely end the partnership between S04 and GAZPROM.
Nord Stream 2 CEO Matthias Warnig has resigned from his position on Schalke’s board
‘The Executive Board and Supervisory Board are in talks with representatives of the current main sponsor, and further information will be announced in due course.’
Warnig and Nord Stream 2, a subsidiary of Gazprom, are facing US sanctions for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
The $11billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which runs from near St Petersburg to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing existing gas pipeline routes through Ukraine, was set to double the the natural gas sent by Russia to Germany. Butthe start of its operation has been suspended following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
The pipeline had been awaiting the approval of the German government, which has now suspended the decision in line with international sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and Warnig.
Benfica’s Ukrainian striker Roman Yaremchuk is moved to tears after receiving captain’s armband and a standing ovation from the entire stadium
Benfica’s Ukrainian striker Roman Yaremchuk was moved to tears after receiving a standing ovation from the entire stadium on Sunday night.
Yaremchuk was initially a substitute for the Portuguese giants in their game against Vitoria, before being brought on to rapturous applause on 62 minutes.
Despite his home country being invaded by Russia, the striker opted to make himself available for the game.
Ukrainian Roman Yaremchuk received a standing ovation when he came on for Benfica
Yaremchuk was clearly moved by the gesture from fans, who held Ukraine flags aloft
And not only did he receive a warm welcome from the crowd, he was also handed the captain’s armband for the final half an hour of the match.
The heart-warming moment initially did not seem to faze him, before his emotions then got the better of him when the applause failed to cease.
Yaremchuk appears obviously moved and begins to cry as play resumes with him on the field.
Around the stadium, Ukraine flags were held aloft, as well as a sign reading ‘Stop War’.
Yaremchuk was given the captain’s armband by Jan Vertonghen when he entered the pitch
Switzerland announce they will refuse to play their Women’s Euros opener in Manchester because their teams will NOT face Russia ‘until further notice’, as pressure grows on FIFA and UEFA
Switzerland have revealed their women’s side will not play their Euros opener this summer as they united with Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic in standing against Russia following her attack on Ukraine.
FIFA has come under intensifying pressure to axe Russia from the 2022 World Cup play-offs.
Switzerland have already qualified for the men’s showpiece tournament in Qatar later this year but are supporting their European counterparts by wanting Russia to be kicked out of the competition.
Switzerland have revealed their women’s side will not play their Euros opener this summer
The country’s football association also said they will refuse to play Russia ‘until further notice’ which means their women’s side’s opening Euro 2020 fixture on July 9 will not go ahead.
‘The SFV condemns the Russian attack on Ukraine, which not only blatantly violates international law but also the universal values of football, such as the promotion of friendly relations, propagated in the FIFA Statutes,’ a Switzerland FA statement read on Monday.
‘Our concern is for the affected people in Ukraine, especially the Ukrainian Football Association and all its members.
The participation of Russia in the Women’s European Championships this summer is in doubt
‘The SFV supports the position of the federations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, who demand the exclusion of the Russian men’s national team from the play-offs for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
‘In solidarity with these associations, the SFV will not be playing any competitive or friendly matches against Russian national teams until further notice.
‘If necessary, this non-negotiable position of the SFV also explicitly extends to the first game of its women’s national team at the UEFA Women’s EURO in England on July 9, 2022 against Russia.’
Switzerland’s women’s outfit are in Group C with Russia, Sweden and Holland at the European Championships this summer. Russia could be kicked out of the Women’s European Championship, which is set to be held in England this summer, completely.
Scotland will let opponents Ukraine use facilities in Glasgow to prepare for the countries’ World Cup play-off next month – with the Scottish FA admitting football is ‘inconsequential’ while war rages
Scottish FA President Rod Petrie has written to his Ukrainian counterpart pledging support and the use of facilities ahead of next month’s scheduled World Cup play-off in Glasgow.
Ukraine’s visit to Hampden on March 24 has been plunged into doubt after a full-scale military invasion by Russia. In a statement on Sunday night FIFA confirmed that they are in ‘close contact’ with the Ukrainian FA and members of the footballing community requesting support to leave the country.
Rod Petrie, the president of the Scottish FA, wrote to his Ukrainian counterpart on Monday
And, as the world of football lines up to take a stand against Russian aggression, the SFA have offered support to the stricken Ukrainians and announced their decision to pulled out of a scheduled UEFA Regions Cup fixture against Russia scheduled for August and ‘any other fixtures’ at international level.
In a statement, the Scottish FA said: ‘Football is inconsequential amid conflict, but we have conveyed the strong sense of solidarity communicated to us by Scotland fans and citizens in recent days.
‘We remain in dialogue with UEFA and FIFA regarding our men’s FIFA World Cup Play-off and women’s World Cup qualifier and have offered to support our Ukrainian colleagues’ preparations as best we can in these unimaginably difficult circumstances.’
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte calls for the ‘world to show solidarity against STUPID people’ as he becomes the latest to blast Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… and expresses his disbelief that a war is happening in 2022!
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has become the latest high-profile football figure to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Spurs boss Antonio Conte has given his thoughts on Russia declaring war on Ukraine, blasting the conflict ‘stupid’.
‘My opinion is that it’s a very sad situation. We are in 2022 and to talk about the possibility about being at war is incredible,’ he said when speaking to the press ahead of his side’s fifth-round FA Cup clash against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has become the last high-profile football figure to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
‘It’s incredible and at the same time it’s stupid. Only to think about this.
‘We need to have peace in the world, not people to die for this type of situation that I repeat is incredible in 2022 to have a war.
‘War is not the answer for anything. The world has to be compact and show solidarity against stupid people.’
EXCLUSIVE: Premier League referees are told NOT to punish players who show support for Ukraine – after Aston Villa’s Matty Cash was yellow carded for his goalscoring celebration dedicated to Dynamo Kyiv’s Tomasz Kedziora
Premier League referees have been told to allow players to show support for Ukraine without receiving yellow cards following Matty Cash’s controversial booking last Saturday.
The Aston Villa defender was cautioned after opening the scoring in his side’s 2-0 win at Brighton and then removing his shirt to reveal a message of solidarity for his Polish international team-mate Tomasz Kedziora, who plays for Dynamo Kyiv.
Sportsmail has been told that Cash was booked by referee John Brooks for taking his shirt off however, which is considered to be unsporting conduct under the Laws of the Game, rather than for displaying a political message.
Matty Cash was booked celebrating his goal for Aston Villa against Brighton on Saturday
The message on his shirt was addressed to Polish team-mate Tomasz Kedziora and his family
Cash would not have booked had he simply raised his shirt to reveal the message, with the words ‘TK and Family Stay Strong My Bro’ scrawled above the image of a heart on the his base layer, and referees have been encouraged to show understanding and empathy towards players who have been moved by events in Ukraine.
Cash has known Kedziora since he took up Polish citizenship through maternal ancestry last October before making his full international debut the following month in a 4-1 win over Andorra.
Kedziora signed for Dynamo five years ago and has stayed in Kyiv despite Russia’s invasion of the city last week. Poland’s footballers have taken a strong line in opposing the military aggression and are refusing to play Russia in a World Cup play-off later this month.