European football’s governing body Uefa has confirmed the termination of its long-standing sponsorship deal with Russian state energy company Gazprom.
The move came as Uefa banned Russian teams from its international and club competition following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Uefa has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions,” it said. “The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the Uefa Champions League, Uefa national team competitions and Uefa Euro 2024.”
Gazprom became a Uefa commercial partner in 2012 and had become a familiar sight on pitchside advertising during Champions League games.
The two parties are less than a year into a new three-year contract reported to be worth £33m ($45M) per year.
“It was only nine months ago that Uefa were delighted that the Russian majority state-owned company Gazprom had renewed their long-standing Champions League and Euros partnership through to 2024, describing them at the time as one of their ‘most trusted partners’ and they clearly didn’t envisage being in this position so soon after this announcement,” said Merrick Haydon, managing director of rEvolution.
“As the world watches on in horror at the events taking place in Ukraine, now Uefa find themselves under intense scrutiny from the clubs, players and fans as well as their numerous commercial and broadcast partners to continue to act decisively.
“Whilst losing a reported $90m rights fee wouldn’t have been in their budgets, they risk losing substantially more than this both financially and reputationally if they are seen to be hesitant or submissive to Gazprom over the coming days and weeks.
“Added to this, Uefa came out of the recent failed European Super League with some very positive credit and amidst reports that Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid may be planning to relaunch these plans again next week, they will certainly be looking to continue to hold the moral high ground.”
German football club Schalke also ended its long-term sponsorship by the Russian gas supplier on Monday.