Monday, Aug 08, 2022

Ukraine War: English Premier League Suspends Russian TV Broadcast Deal

The English Premier League (EPL) said it will also donate GBP 1 million 'to support the people of Ukraine'. Russia began the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Players from Wolverhampton Wanderers stand for a moment of reflection and solidarity with Ukraine.
Players from Wolverhampton Wanderers stand for a moment of reflection and solidarity with Ukraine. AP Photo

The English Premier League (EPL), showing solidarity with Ukraine, has suspended its broadcast deal with Russia's state-owned Rambler Media (Okko Sport) with immediate effect. (More Cricket News)

The Premier League's decision to cancel the deal was taken at a shareholders’ meeting in London on Tuesday, with all 20 clubs agreeing to the move. EPL chief executive Richard Masters had previously revealed that the league's TV deals with Russian companies were under review.

This follows a weekend of EPL matches displaying League-wide support for Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine started on February 24 following a pre-dawn televised address by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dubbed 'Putin's War,' the invasion of Ukraine is the largest military attack on a country in Europe since World War II.

"The Premier League and its clubs today unanimously agreed to suspend our agreement with Russian broadcast partner Rambler (Okko Sport) with immediate effect and to donate £1million to support the people of Ukraine," a statement from the league read.

The deal with Rambler Media, which is owned by state-owned bank Sberbank, was supposed to run till the end of the current 2021-22 season. The deal was reportedly around EURO 7 million (USD 8.2 million) per year.

"The League strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those impacted.

"The £1million donation will be made to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to deliver humanitarian aid directly to those in need," the statement further read.

Nigel Huddleston, the minister of sports in England, has welcomed the move.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do and we fully support the Premier League’s decision to stop broadcasting matches in Russia in response to Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion of Ukraine. Russia cannot be allowed to legitimise its illegal war through sport and culture, and we must work together to ensure Putin remains a pariah on the international stage," he said.

EPL, the top-tier football league, is the most-watched sports league in the world. 

But no decision has been taken on whether to cancel the new EPL rights with Gazprom Media's Match TV, which is owned by state energy giant Gazprom.

The reported six-year EPL-Match TV contract, worth in the region of EURO 50 million, starts from the 2022-23 season.

Meanwhile, the Football Association, football's governing body in England, has suspended its partnership with Russian broadcasters over rights for the FA Cup.

On Saturday, China decided against showing any of the EPL games on the weekend after England's top-flight league decided to express solidarity with Ukraine.

Russian football clubs and national teams have already been suspended from all competitions "until further notice" by world football's governing body FIFA and European governing body, UEFA.

The Russian Football Union on Tuesday appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have the bans revoked.

Russia's men's national football team was scheduled to play Poland on March 24 in a FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying play-off, with the winners facing either Sweden or the Czech Republic.

As of now, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have refused to play against Russia.


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