Boris Johnson: ‘Inconceivable’ that sports relations could continue with Russia
Boris Johnson said it was ‘inconceivable’ that sports relations could continue with Russia under Vladimir Putin, when football teams across the country stood in solidarity with Ukraine.
The Prime Minister’s comments come after Poland and Sweden refused to play the Russian national football team in the World Cup play-offs after invading Ukraine.
Mr Johnson, speaking on Saturday night at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, said the situation was “sad”.
He said: “I mean, it’s a sad thing because I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this for a very, very long time.
“But it is inconceivable for me to imagine that normal sporting relations with Putin’s Russia can continue.”
It came amid an outpouring of anti-war sentiment across the Premier League, with Manchester City’s Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko and compatriot Vitalii Mykolenko of Everton in tears on their respective benches at Goodison Park .
The home side emerged from the tunnel draped in Ukrainian flags, with City players wearing T-shirts also emblazoned with the flag and the words ‘No War’, as the song He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was played In the stadium.
Just before kick off for Manchester United’s game against Watford, the teams gathered to hold a sign displaying the word ‘Peace’, while Aston Villa defender Matty Cash took off his shirt to reveal a message ” stay strong” at Dynamo. Kyiv defender Tomasz Kedziora after scoring.
Meanwhile, Roman Abramovich has entrusted the ‘stewardship and care’ of Chelsea to the trustees of the club’s foundation.
Elsewhere, the Champions League soccer final in May was moved from Russia’s second-largest city, St Petersburg, to Paris, while world motorsport governing body the FIA announced that the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix in September had been canceled.
The decisions were welcomed by the UK government, with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries saying: “Our message is clear: Russia must not be able to legitimize its heinous and barbaric attack on Ukraine by hosting sporting events and international cultures”.