- BT Sport and DAZN say they are obliged to show Gazprom ads during Champions League coverage
- Russian energy firm pays Uefa a reported €40m per season
- St Petersburg expected to be stripped of Champions League final hosting duties
Broadcasters including BT Sport and DAZN have said they are obligated to continue showing advertisements featuring Russian energy giant Gazprom, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Promotions featuring Gazprom, which is a sponsor of the Uefa Champions League and pays a reported €40 million (US$45 million) per season, were broadcast during this week’s coverage of European soccer’s elite club competition.
Pay-TV network BT Sport, which has exclusive rights in the UK, said in a statement: ‘As part of our Uefa contract we are obliged to show the Uefa Champions League bumpers, which are provided to us by Uefa to include in our broadcast.’
BT Sport had earlier said it was ‘concerned’ by customer reactions to the Gazprom advertisements.
A spokesperson for sports streaming service DAZN, which has Champions League rights in Germany, Austria and Canada, also released a statement: ‘Commercials from various Uefa sponsors are shown as part of our Uefa Champions League broadcasts. DAZN has no control over these.’
A Uefa spokesperson said European soccer’s governing body would ‘continue to closely monitor the situation’.
With this season’s Champions League final due to be held at the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg, contingency plans are being drawn up by Uefa, according to the PA news agency.
The Russian city is reportedly set to be stripped of hosting the final, which is scheduled to take place on 28th May.
Uefa has already had to change the venue for the final for the 2020 and 2021 editions due to Covid-19. According to PA, the organisation may wait until the latter stages of the competition to see which sides remain in the tournament.
Earlier this week, the UK government’s foreign secretary Liz Truss said any English clubs who reach the Champions League final should boycott it if the event is held in Russia.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson had also said that there was “no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries”.
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