What does Russia’s invasion of Ukraine mean for sport?

Ireland’s Nations League tie set to be moved, Champions League final and sanctions

With Russia's invasion of Ukraine having begun overnight, a number of potential ramifications for the sporting world have been identified. Here is what we know so far.

Nations League

Stephen Kenny's Ireland side were due to host Ukraine on June 4th in the Uefa Nations League. As things stand, no changes are planned to that home tie. However, the planned return trip to the city of Lviv on June 14th now looks set to be moved with Poland and Romania touted as potential new locations.

The FAI has released the following statement: “The FAI will continue to communicate on an ongoing basis with our Government, our colleagues at Uefa and the Ukraine Association of Football with regards to the latest developments and the implications for the Ukraine v Republic of Ireland fixture in the Uefa Nations League, currently fixed for Lviv on Tuesday, June 14th.

“The FAI will also welcome Ukraine to Dublin on June 4th for the opening fixture in the Uefa Nations League campaign. The FAI awaits the outcome of the Uefa ExCo meeting on Friday, February 25th which has been called to discuss the current situation in the Ukraine.”


The domestic Premier League in Ukraine has been suspended for at least 30 days as a result of the invasion. The news was confirmed on the league’s website after martial law was introduced by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Champions League

The Champions League final, set for the Russian city of St Petersburg on May 28th, looks all but set to be moved following the invasion. On Tuesday, Uefa said they were monitoring the situation in Eastern Europe but had made no plans to change as of yet, but the governing body is drawing up contingency plans now Russia has taken such drastic action.

Many have called upon Uefa to move the showpiece of the European club season. Among them is UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who made her thoughts clear in a Sky News interview on Wednesday.


More sanctions are certainly on the way as the international community seeks to respond to Putin’s declaration of war. The question remains of who exactly will be targeted by these?

Confusion was caused in the UK when Prime Minister Boris Johnson mistakenly said that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had been sanctioned. His colleagues in the Conservative Party clarified his remarks and said that the record would be corrected to reflect that Abramovich had not been sanctioned.

Whether he will be subject to future measures remains up in the air. Labour MP Margaret Hodge listed a group of Russian oligarchs to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, one that was drawn up by an anti-corruption foundation set up by Alexei Navalny. Navalny is Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic in Russian and was imprisoned in 2021 for embezzlement. He was earlier poisoned with novichok and he blamed the Putin regime.

On Navalny’s list read out by Hodge is Abramovich’s name. This does not mean he is guaranteed to face sanctions but there are clearly politicians who believe he should be part of the discussion. It is unclear what this would mean for the Chelsea owner or indeed the finances of the club.

Also named on this list is former Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who sold his stake in the club to Stan Kroenke in 2018. Usmanov is also the current president of the International Fencing Federation.