Football: Premier League suspends deal with Russian broadcaster

British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said the government stands behind the Premier League’s decision. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - The Premier League announced on Tuesday (March 8) it was suspending an agreement with its Russian broadcast partner following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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

"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 £1 million (S$1.8 million) to support the people of Ukraine."

Premier League clubs displayed their support of Ukraine during the weekend’s fixtures, with club captains wearing special armbands and players, fans and staff joining in a moment of reflection and solidarity before kick-offs.

Big screens displayed the slogan “Football Stands Together” against the backdrop of the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.

British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said the government stands behind the Premier League’s decision.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Okko Sport, a subscription-based service, reportedly pays around £6.2 million per year for the rights to show Premier League matches.

Football has unified in its response to Russia’s invasion which the country had called a “special operation” it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities.

World and European governing bodies Fifa and Uefa have barred the Russian national team and clubs from international competitions until further notice.

Follow The Straits Times' live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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