The world of sport turned on Russia today after Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, invading in the early hours.
Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel called for the Sochi Grand Prix in September to be boycotted while the Champions League final in St Petersburg on May 28 is set be moved elsewhere.
UEFA came under threat to seriously consider changing the location of the European showpiece and the football governing body are indeed expected to strip Russia of the huge sporting event.
Premier League and Ukrainian star Oleksandr Zinchenko was one of the first high-profile sports figures to speak out following Russia’s invasion, saying he ‘hopes Putin dies’.
Scared Brazilian footballers stranded in Ukraine are begging their government to come to their aid and evacuate them, while former Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca, also stuck in the country, said it was ‘the worst day of my life’.
The Ukrainian football league has been paused for 30 days at least with martial law introduced overnight, and the Swedish FA say it’s ‘almost unthinkable’ that they could face the Czech Republic in a World Cup play-off match in Russia in March.
Russia have launched all-out war on Ukraine with missiles and bombs, tanks rolling across the border from Belarus, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions seen across the country after Putin personally gave the order for his forces to attack.
And this is how the world of sport responded…
Russian Mi-8 attack helicopters stage an assault on Gostomel air base, just on the outskirts of Kiev, after Vladimir Putin launched an all-out attack on the country
An image captured near Kiev shows what appears to be the wreckage of a downed Russian attack helicopter with a soldier parachuting out of it (to the left of the frame)
The attack has come to Ukraine on all fronts, with bombs and missiles striking targets across the country, ground forces rolling in from Belarus, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, and paratroopers dropping on Kharkiv
‘I will not go… it’s wrong to race in that country’: Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel calls for Russian Grand Prix to be CANCELLED after invasion of Ukraine by ‘a very strange and mad leadership’, as sport’s bosses stall on a decision
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has called on Formula One’s bosses to remove the Russian Grand Prix from the 2022 calendar after the invasion of Ukraine.
Aston Martin driver Vettel, 34, became the first F1 star to speak out.
The German’s words come as an F1 statement refused to commit on making a decision over the race, which is due to be held in Sochi on September 25.
Sebastian Vettel is the first F1 driver to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
‘In my personal opinion, obviously I woke up again after this morning’s news, shocked,’ Vettel said on Thursday as pre-season testing continued in Barcelona.
‘I think it’s horrible to see what is happening. Obviously if you look at the calendar, we have a race scheduled in Russia.
‘For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in that country. I’m sorry for the people, innocent people who are losing their lives, getting killed for stupid reasons under a very strange and mad leadership.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen stopped short of condemning Russia, but also thinks the race should be scrapped. He said: ‘When a country is at war, it is not right to race there.’
The Russian Grand Prix is due to be held in Sochi in September. Lewis Hamilton won last year
A statement released by Formula One earlier on Thursday read: ‘F1 is closely watching the very fluid developments like many others and at this time has no further comment on the race scheduled for September.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.’
The statement followed reports that the Russian Grand Prix had been removed from F1’s ticketing website, before later reappearing.
Manchester City’s Ukrainian star Oleksandr Zinchenko claims Instagram DELETED his post telling Russian president Vladimir Putin ‘I hope you die the most painful suffering death, creature’
Ukraine footballer Oleksandr Zinchenko claims Instagram have deleted his story post saying he hopes Putin suffers the ‘most painful suffering death’.
The Manchester City defender, on his Instagram story, posted a photo of Putin with the caption: ‘I hope you die the most painful suffering death, creature.’
Yet that story post has since been taken down and Zinchenko claims that Instagram have deleted his post in seemingly a move of censorship of the Ukraine international. Sportsmail has contacted Instagram for comment.
Oleksandr Zinchenko says he hopes Vladimir Putin suffers the ‘most painful suffering death’ in a post that Instagram have since taken down, according to the Manchester City defender
Putin is pictured in the early hours of Thursday morning declaring war on Ukraine, in what he termed a ‘special military operation’
The 25-year-old said on Tuesday that he ‘can’t stand back’ while ‘the whole civilised world is concerned about my country’ and has again taken to social media on Thursday morning.
In an emotional message on Tuesday Zinchenko, who started his career at Russian club FC Ufa, said: ‘The whole civilised world is worried about the situation in my country.
‘I can’t stay back and strive to put my point across. In the photo – my country. The country where I was born and raised.
‘A country whose colours I defend in the international sports arena. A country that we try to glorify and develop.
‘A country whose borders must remain inviolable. My country belongs to Ukrainians and no one will ever be able to appropriate it. We will not give up! Glory to Ukraine.’
Zinchenko’s wife Vlada Shcheglovam who is a journalist, posted a photo of a pro-Ukraine rally in London on Wednesday night.
Zinchenko’s wife Vlada Shcheglova (with the footballer, left) posted a photo of a pro-Ukraine rally in London on Wednesday night (right)
UEFA call a Friday morning emergency summit to STRIP St Petersburg of the Champions League final after Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, with Wembley, West Ham and Tottenham all keen to bring the game to England
The Europa League has been slammed by fans on Twitter for posting a now-deleted cheery ‘Happy Thursday’ message in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia will be stripped of the Champions League final after UEFA convened an emergency meeting for Friday.
The showpiece event of European club football was scheduled to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg on May 28.
But the final will be relocated, with three London venues – Wembley Stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and West Ham’s London Stadium – potential alternatives.
A UEFA statement said: ‘Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.’
UEFA is also under increasing pressure to drop their £33million-a-season sponsorship deal with the majority state-owned Russian energy provider Gazprom, who also sponsor the UEFA Nations League and European Championship finals.
All members of UEFA’s executive committee have been invited to the meeting, including Alexander Dyukov. He is the president of Zenit St Petersburg and the Russian Football Union as well as being the chief executive of Gazprom.
The Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg is set to be stripped of this season’s Champions League final as early as Friday following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The 65,000-capacity Gazprom Arena was due to host this season’s showpiece event
Sportsmail reported that West Ham’s owners would be open to staging the Champions League final at their 62,500-capacity London Stadium.
Wembley – which holds 90,000 spectators – is an option but the stadium is set to hold the Championship and League Two play-off finals on the same weekend.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – capacity 62,850 – or West Ham’s home have no such concern.
Terrified Brazilian football stars stranded in Ukraine film a video begging their government to send a plane and evacuate them and reveal ‘food is running out, there’s no fuel, no money’
Brazilian footballers stranded in war-hit Ukraine have appealed to their government for an immediate evacuation, saying ‘the situation is one of despair.’
A video clip showed players from Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv, with their families, gathered in a hotel in the Ukrainian capital.
‘Borders are closed, banks [are shut], there is no fuel, there will be a shortage of food, there is no money.
A video clip showing Brazilian footballers based in Ukraine and their families appealing to their government for an evacuation has been circulated on Twitter
The journalist Arthur Quezada posted a video on Twitter showing several Brazilian players assembled to make an appeal to the authorities in their home country to get them out of Ukraine.
Their partners and young children were also visible in the video.
The Shakhtar striker Junior Moraes, 34, sent a message saying: ‘The situation is one of despair. I ask you to disclose this video so that it reaches the [Brazilian] government.
The group includes players from Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv, who are currently in a hotel in the Ukrainian capital after Russia invaded the country
The Shakhtar Donetsk player Junior Moraes posted this Instagram message reading: ‘All friends and family, the situation is serious and we are stuck in Kiev waiting for a solution to get out. We are inside a hotel. Pray for us.’
‘Borders are closed, banks [are shut], there is no fuel, there will be a shortage of food, there is no money.
‘We are gathered waiting for a plan to leave Ukraine.’
Moraes posted a message on Instagram that read: ‘All friends and family, the situation is serious and we are stuck in Kiev waiting for a solution to get out. We are inside a hotel. Pray for us.’
Moraes was born in Brazil but is a Ukraine international. There are 12 Brazilian players in the Shakhtar squad, 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.
Commercial airlines have grounded flights to and from Ukraine, preventing an exit for any foreigners, while Russia’s assault on the country from the south, east and north has made an escape by land highly treacherous.
Former Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca reveals he is stranded in Kiev with his Ukrainian wife and son and ‘praying a bomb doesn’t fall on us’ on ‘the worst day of my life’, after his flight out of the capital was cancelled
Portuguese football manager Paulo Fonseca is stranded in Ukraine with his wife and son after their last-ditch attempt to escape war-torn Kiev failed with their morning flight abandoned.
Fonseca, who previously coached Roma in Italy, is married to Ukrainian Katerina Ostroushko and they had a son together in 2019.
With Russia heading for Ukraine amid growing political tensions, Fonseca had plotted an exit route from Kiev via a 10am flight, only to see all commercial flights suspended.
Paulo Fonseca (right) is stranded in Kiev with his wife Katerina (left) and their son (front) after their attempt to get a flight out of Ukraine failed following Russian forces invading
Airports are destroyed following missile strikes, roads are log-jammed with Ukrainians trying to escape to nearby Poland and Fonseca is holed up in a Kiev hotel on what he has labelled the ‘worst day of his life’.
‘I woke up at five in the morning with five explosions in a row,’ he told Jornal de Noticias.
‘I had a flight scheduled for today, but now it is impossible to leave here, not least because the airports are already destroyed and the airspace has been closed.
Fonseca and his family are now ‘praying a bomb doesn’t drop’ on them as they try to find an exit route with commercial airlines grounding flights and roads blocked with cars
‘This is the worst day of my life. Now it’s time to wait and be lucky. And pray that a bomb doesn’t fall on us.’
With flights grounded and Russia’s assault on the country from the south, east and north making an escape by land highly treacherous, Fonseca confessed to not knowing a way out.
His wife Katerina wrote on Instagram, accompanied with a picture of the couple’s son: ‘Worst morning ever. Pain. Anger, anger, anger and pain.
‘My little son didn’t deserve the war. The children of Ukraine did not deserve the war.’
Swedish FA chief insists it’s ‘almost UNTHINKABLE’ that they could face a World Cup play-off match in Russia next month, saying there’s ‘no desire to play football’ in the country after the invasion of Ukraine
A 2022 World Cup play-off match in Russia is ‘almost unthinkable’ at the moment, the chairman of the Swedish Football Association has said following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
Sweden are due to face the Czech Republic in a World Cup play-off Path B match on March 24, with the victor meeting the winner of the other group game between Poland and Russia.
Sweden are due to face the Czech Republic in a World Cup play-off Path B match in Russia
Wins for Sweden and Russia would mean the two sides meeting in Russia on March 29, with a place at the Qatar World Cup at stake.
Karl-Erik Nilsson said: ‘It’s a possible scenario… spontaneously around the feelings we have as we wake up this morning are that it is almost unthinkable that we in a few weeks would play a football match in Russia.’
‘As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia,’ he added.
REVEALED: Russia could be KICKED OUT of the Women’s Euros in England this summer following Thursday’s invasion of Ukraine… with their participation to be debated at UEFA’s emergency meeting tomorrow
Russia could be kicked out of the Women’s European Championship, which is set to be held in England this summer.
The issue will be discussed at Friday’s emergency UEFA meeting, which was convened following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss had previously urged English teams to boycott the men’s Champions League final, which was set to be held in St Petersburg.
The participation of Russia in the Women’s European Championships this summer is in doubt
And there are now doubts over whether Russia will be allowed to travel to England to compete in this summer’s tournament.
Russia qualified after winning their play-off with Portugal and were subsequently drawn alongside Holland, Sweden and Switzerland in Group C.
Several outcomes are likely to be discussed, including their expulsion from the competition.
Another option could see the players compete under a neutral name, similar to how Russian athletes participated in the Olympics.
German football team Schalke 04 remove Russian state-owned sponsor Gazprom’s name from their shirts after Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, as president’s ally Matthias Warnig resigns from club’s board
One of Germany’s biggest football teams, Schalke 04, have removed the name of Russian sponsors Gazprom from their shirts after Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine on Thursday.
Energy company Gazprom are majority-owned by the Russian state and are major sponsors of the Champions League as well as of Schalke.
The connection between Schalke and Gazprom was set up by Nord Stream 2 CEO Matthias Warnig, a former officer in East Germany’s notorious Stasi state police and a known ally of Putin’s.
A club statement read: ‘Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club’s shirts. It will be replaced by lettering reading ‘Schalke 04′ instead.’
Schalke are sponsored by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy company
‘No war’: Russian footballer condemns his country’s invasion of Ukraine as the Dynamo Moscow striker becomes the first high-profile player from Vladimir Putin’s homeland to speak out
Russia and Dynamo Moscow striker Fedor Smolov has expressed his opposition to the country’s invasion of Ukraine by writing ‘no war’ on Instagram.
Smolov has become the first Russian player to comment on the situation, taking to Instagram himself to condemn his country’s move on Thursday.
The striker, who has earned 45 caps for Russia in his career, posted a black square and wrote the caption: ‘No war’ along with a broken-heart emoji and the Ukraine flag.
Fedor Smolov took to Instagram to write ‘no war’ and express support for country of Ukraine
Ukraine’s football league is paused for a minimum of 30 DAYS
The Ukrainian Premier League has been paused for a minimum of 30 days.
The league was meant to restart on Friday following its winter break but the league confirmed via their official website that the start has been delayed after the introduction of martial law overnight by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The league was meant to restart on Friday following its winter break but the league confirmed via their official website that the start has been delayed after the introduction of martial law
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev describes his country’s invasion of Ukraine as ‘terrible’ and says ‘peace is the most important thing’… just days after he won an ATP doubles title with a Ukrainian partner
Andrey Rublev awoke on Thursday to find that his own country had invaded that of his doubles partner.
Five days previously the Russian world No 7 had won the ATP title in Marseille alongside Ukrainian Denys Molchanov, an unlikely alliance in light of wider world events.
Rublev tried to put the images he had seen on television in the morning out of his head before tackling American MacKenzie McDonald in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
He just about managed to do so and registered a 2-6 6-3 6-1 victory after losing the first five games. The 24 year-old Muscovite admitted later that he is troubled by infinitely more profound happenings elsewhere.
‘In these moments you realise that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affect me. What’s happening is much more terrible,’ said Rublev.
‘You realise how important is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. It’s about that we should be take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.’
Like compatriot Daniil Medvedev, Rublev has been targeted online due to his nationality, something that comes with representing a pariah nation.
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev condemned his country’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday
Rublev won a double event in Marseille with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov (pictured) this week