Chelsea FC Being Sold as Cultural Pressure on Russia Grows. Here’s Who’s Cutting Ties


With war raging in Ukraine, sports and entertainment organizations are increasingly cutting ties with Russia. 

Here is a running list of what’s been canceled, postponed and moved.


Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (picture) is selling Chelsea FC. In a statement on the football club’s website, he said he will use net proceeds of the sale to help with the immediate needs of the victims of the war in Ukraine, and support in its longer-term recovery. “It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all of our joint achievements.” 

The European football governing body, UEFA, said it is moving its May 28 Champions League finals from Saint Petersburg to Paris “following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.” English Premier League team Manchester United has withdrawn sponsorship rights for Russian airline Aeroflot in light of the events in Ukraine, it said in a statement on its website.

FIFA has banned Russia from competing in the World Cup qualifiers.


The National Hockey League is suspending its relationships with business partners in Russia, pausing Russian-language social and digital media sites, and discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future NHL competitions, according to a statement on its website.

Auto Racing

FIA, the governing body for Formula 1, has ruled that Russian drivers like Haas’ Nikita Mazepin can continue to race, but only under a neutral flag. Following IOC guidance, Russia is now banned from participating in all international auto racing events. The Russian Grand Prix scheduled for Sept. 23 has been canceled.

Mazepin’s father is a Russian billionaire who is a majority shareholder in Uralkali, a sponsor of the team. Sponsor decals have been removed from the Haas race car.


Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation have been suspended for all international tennis events. Russian tennis players like Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev can continue to play but only under a neutral flag. Rublev protested Russia’s invasion by writing “No War Please” on a TV camera at the Dubai Championships. The ATP Challenger tournament which was scheduled to be held in Moscow on Feb 28 has been canceled.

Figure Skating

The International Skating Union has barred Russian athletes from competing. This opens the possibility of Olympians Anna Shcherbakova, and Kamila Valieva falling out of the world rankings.


The International Ski Federation said the six World Cup events scheduled to take place in Russia are in the process of being moved to another location “in the interest of the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup.”

Martial Arts

The International Judo Federation dropped Putin as honorary president and World Taekwondo has stripped him of his honorary black belt.


Following the Feb. 24 invasion, the International Olympic Committee urged all sports organizations to move or cancel events in Russia and Belarus. The IOC ruled on March 2 that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

Film Studios

Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp., Universal Studios and AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia have paused the theatrical release of films in Russia including Pixar’s “Turning Red,” Sony’s “Morbius,” Universal’s “Ambulance” and Warner Bros.’ “The Batman.” Paramount Pictures said it would delay the Russian debuts of its films “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”

In a statement, Disney said, “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”

Cannes Film Festival is blocking Russian delegations from attending festivities in May.


Netflix Inc. has paused all projects and acquisitions from Russia including four Russian originals in production, according to Variety. The streaming platform is also dropping Russian news channels. DirecTV is terminating its contract with the Russian-owned television network, RT. This comes amid the National Association of Broadcasters urging U.S. companies to stop carrying Russian state-owned media.

The National Association of Television Programming Executives known as NATPE has banned Russian companies from participating in its international television sales market this June.

The Eurovision Song Contest, the international songwriting competition that drew 183 million viewers last year, is barring Russian acts from participating. “In light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry would bring the competition into disrepute,” the European Broadcasting Union said in a tweet.

Live Performances

On Feb. 25, New York’s Carnegie Hall replaced Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev in a performance with the Vienna Philharmonic. Both artists had previously signed an open letter supporting Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Gergiev has since been fired as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic over his refusal to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera said in a statement it will no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or that are supported by him until the invasion of Ukraine stops. 

Bands including Green Day, Iggy Pop, Franz Ferdinand and AJR have canceled their upcoming concert dates in Moscow and other Russian cities. 

In the U.K., the Royal Opera House has canceled summer performances of the Bolshoi Ballet.