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FIFA suspends Russia from World Cup; NHL condemns invasion of Ukraine

FIFA suspends Russia from World Cup; NHL condemns invasion of Ukraine
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Winner's Trophy sits on display Feb. 22 in Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Leszek Szymanski/EPA-EFE

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- FIFA has booted Russia out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in response to last week's Russian invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, and the European association, UEFA, released a joint statement Monday confirming that all Russian national teams and clubs have been suspended indefinitely due to the conflict in Ukraine.

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"Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice," the statement said.

"These decisions were adopted today by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.

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"Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

Russia was scheduled to play Poland in a semifinal match ahead of a potential final against Sweden or the Czech Republic in March. The Russian women's team was to compete in the European Championships that currently are set for July in England.

Spartak Moscow also was removed from the Europa League, meaning their round of 16 opponent, RB Leipzig, will be given a bye to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

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In addition to those moves, UEFA confirmed it was canceling its deal with sponsor Gazprom -- a Russian energy company -- which is worth about $44.9 million each year to the organization.

"UEFA has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions," UEFA said in a separate news release. "The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the UEFA Champions League, UEFA national team competitions and UEFA EURO 2024."

UEFA's decision comes after Saint Petersburg was removed as the host city for this season's Champions League final. Paris is now set to host the premier fixture instead of the Russian city.

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Also Monday, the NHL condemned Russia and outlined measures it has put in place as a reprimand for the country's actions.

"The National Hockey League condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible," the NHL said in a statement. "Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites.

"In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL. We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position."

Moving forward, the NHL plans to remove its games from Russian-based Yandex, one of Europe's largest internet companies. That partnership dates back to 2019, and the sides agreed on a multiyear extension earlier this year.

The NHL also intends to temporarily halt its relationship with Russia betting partner Liga Stavok.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last week, sparking significant international backlash. The NHL's denouncement of the attack came shortly after the International Ice Hockey Federation issued a similar decree against Russia.

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In its statement, the IIHF said it has banned teams from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international hockey events "until further notice." The organization also noted that it will relocate the 2023 World Junior Championship tournament out of Russia.

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