Sport is another victim of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia

Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC for two decades. / Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

It is not a good moment for Russia, nor for its sport. To the recurring scandals over systemic doping over the past decade and controversies over bribes to football leaders to secure a place in the 2018 World Cup, we now add the repercussions of the conflict with Ukraine, which include sanctions and an international embargo. Eurasian Giant Society.

The conflict has its origins in the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, but intensified with the accession of Crimea to Russia in 2014, and Ukraine’s entry into the European Union, in effect since 2016, as separatist groups who wanted Lugansk and Donetsk to be independent. Since then, conflicts have erupted between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian armed groups in what is known as the Donbas War.

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And sports were not immune to this stress. Hundreds of athletes have decided to end their careers to avoid being judged or criticized for representing any of those areas. Even the governing institutions of the different disciplines must deal with the bureaucratic obstacles and constraints resulting from the political and social situation between the two countries, as mobilization is limited, and the resources for training, preparation and participation in events do not arrive on time because of this. Military activities are a priority. Sports activities in Avdiivka were suspended a month ago, and many local athletes had their bags ready to go in case a war broke out. At least in Lugansk and Donetsk, because the situation in the rest of Ukraine appears to be normal.

On the streets, the uncertainty caused by the conflict has not yet been noticed. According to Gilmar Bolivar, a 20-year-old Colombian footballer who plays for Carpathy, a second-tier club based in Halych, western Ukraine, “You hear the news, but life goes on as usual. In my team there are Russians and Ukrainians, and they continue to act and communicate. quietly.”

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However, after Vladimir Putin’s government announced the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states of Ukraine, there were already repercussions. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to ban five Russian banks and three billionaires from the financial system, saying that the country should not host major sporting events, such as the Champions League final, scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg.

These measures will directly affect Putin’s personal friends, such as Roman Abramovich (Chelsea owner) and Alisher Usmanov (Everton), as well as Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) and Maxim Demin (Bournemouth). Not to mention that during an extraordinary session of European Union members yesterday they began to study the possibility of excluding Russia from international sports competitions that are held while the dispute continues, which will apparently take a long time.

Many world powers, led by the United States, will not hesitate to economically block Russia, its companies and its billionaires, despite the fact that this has devastating effects on the world economy and especially on the economy of the old continent, much of which depends, for example, gas, oil and energy that It comes from the east which will be rare.

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However, this is a major league chess game, where each move has many effects. So the official declarations, decisions and positions are analyzed, studied and calculated. In at least 50 European football clubs of the first, second and third tier, and 200 other sports of various categories, there are legal capitals of Russia and China, as well as some other clubs used for money laundering, for which there is no official record but the certainty of They exist and are persecuted by the authorities.

For Russia, prolonging the conflict also means reversing its intention to regain the prestige it had lost in the past decades. The World Cup 2018, after setbacks, contributed to returning to the international arena and improving its image, which was tainted in sport by the systematic use of doping between 2009 and 2015, with the complicity of authorities and state officials, in addition to obstructing the investigations of international organizations with tampering with data and witnesses.

Indeed, in 2019 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set a four-year sentence for this country, which must appear athletes who have not been involved in any doping investigation at competitions such as the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships. As an independent or under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee or Paralympic.

At the end of next March, the Russian and Ukrainian football teams, along with 10 other teams, will face the European play-off match for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, and fortunately, they are not in the same category. Russia will face Poland in the first key and if they win, their place in the World Cup will be played against the winner of the duel between Sweden and the Czech Republic. Ukraine will face Scotland first and if they win, they will later play Wales or Austria.

The scenario of uncertainty and doubt is reminiscent of decades of the Cold War, in which tension between the communist government and the West was transferred to athletic competitions and caused many Olympic sabotages.

Some analysts insist that the conflict will not prosper in the long term and for the economic convenience of all involved, the institution will be preserved, with independence from the powers and oversight of the international community.

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For sports, culture, education and other fields, these effects, which are impossible to determine now, will appear in the future, because for the youth of the disputed areas, without school and social activities for a long time, still suffering the consequences of the restrictions brought about by the Corona virus, enjoyment and happiness today are not with priority.

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