The Russo-Ukrainian War has shaken up the European soccer world

Rama Rugaba

More stories from Rama Rugaba


F.C. Barcelona and S.S.C. Napoli, two of the biggest clubs in the world, pose together with a Stop War banner before participating in a Round of 32 Europa League game. This is part of an effort by UEFA, one of the largest football organizations, to mobilize efforts to stand against aggression by Russia.

On Feb. 24, the Russian army invaded Ukraine with the intent of taking over the Capital, Kyiv. This is no new conflict as back in 2014 Russia annexed Crimea, causing international outrage and condemnation. Now we find ourselves focusing on the same region again, this time with graver consequences for people all over the world.

There has been much talk of a potential World War 3 by people in Europe and America as the war has had a much larger effect on international relations than anticipated. One area the war had a major impact on was sports, in particular, European soccer because it is so close to the action. Acts of solidarity have been demonstrated by many, the top players and clubs in Europe have held moments of silence for Ukraine, flown the Ukrainian flags, and lent emotional support to Ukrainian players.

Furthermore, the Russian National Team has been banned indefinitely from taking part in international competitions like the FIFA world cup and the Euro Championship, opportunities that come around only once every four years. Russian soccer clubs have also been banned from partaking in major club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Conference League, and more outside of Russia.

It is not only Russian teams that are being reprimanded by the major soccer organizations, Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich has been forced into a difficult situation with his club Chelsea F.C. with even the British government getting involved. Under pressure, Abrahamovich has tried to sell the club but the UK government has frozen his assets making him unable to sell the club. This is even more damaging for Chelsea FC as they can no longer sell merchandise or tickets to games, make transfers or renew any contracts.

“I think he does deserve [the sanctions] because what he has done is clearly immoral and illegal. It is only coming to light now because of the situation in Ukraine which I think is many people’s complaints but I don’t think that changes the severity of the crimes,” Chelsea supporter junior Leo MacDonald said.

There is also a concern as to how such actions will affect not only Chelsea but the rest of English and European soccer given the club’s status as a big team and current holders of the Champions League trophy. Manchester City supporter, junior Keon Abasi believes that while domestically the league doesn’t change much, it has a greater impact on European competitions,

“As it stands, City and Liverpool are miles ahead in terms of their current squad and I would go as far as to argue with their youngsters too. I think it would definitely open up another spot for European football [Champions League, Europa League, Conference League] for any of the chasing pack with their pull power being severely hampered. This issue will probably go on for a while and even if the assets are unfrozen, I doubt any stars will want to join uncertainty, while others leave,” Abasi said.

The future of European Soccer is not guaranteed. While that is dear to billions of fans all over the world, there are much more important events taking place that have immediate and historical consequences. The soccer world has come to realize that they need to put the sport on the back burner and focus on combating the effects of the war. What would make the effort even more substantial is the manpower of the fans as well.