- German club’s current deal with Gazprom is reportedly worth €10m per year
- Russian energy giant’s branding remains on other club inventory with deal’s long-term future unclear
German soccer club Schalke will be removing the logo of Russian energy giant Gazprom from their kit following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An official statement posted to the club’s Twitter account on 24th February read: ‘Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor Gazprom from the club’s shirts. It will be replaced by lettering reading ‘Schalke 04’ instead.’
Gazprom’s board representative at Schalke, Matthias Warnig, has also resigned from his position on the Schalke board after the US government placed the 66-year-old former Stasi officer on its list of sanctioned individuals.
Warnig, who is the managing director of Nord Stream AG, the Gazprom-owned company constructing the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, had been on the Schalke board since 2019.
Although Gazprom’s logo has been removed from Schalke’s kits, the company’s branding is still on display at the club’s training ground and Veltins Arena home. As of yet, the long-term implications for the club’s deal with Gazprom are not known.
Amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine, German sports publication Bild started replacing Gazprom’s logo on Schalke shirts with the words ‘freedom for Ukraine’ on 23rd February.
The Russian state-owned energy giant has been the club’s main partner 2007, with the partnership most recently renewed in 2021 in a deal which Sky Deutschland reported is worth around €10 million (US$11.18 million) annually.
Gazprom is a major backer of European soccer. It has a partnership with Uefa, the continental governing body, worth around US$45 million per year to sponsor the Champions League club tournament. Uefa confirmed on 24th February that it would ‘closely monitor’ the Russia-Ukraine situation after several broadcasters raised concerns over the partnership.
As fallout from the Ukraine-Russia crisis continues, Manchester United have ended their deal with Russian airline Aeroflot. The Russian flag carrier has been banned from the UK as part of the government’s sanctions on the Vladimir Putin regime.
The club’s six-year agreement with Aeroflot, which runs until 2023, is worth around UK£40 million (US$53.49 million) in total, according to multiple reports. United did not use Aeroflot to travel to their Champion League game at Atletico Madrid on 22nd February, instead using charter airline Titan Airways.
In addition, the Haas Formula One team have removed the branding of Russian fertiliser producer Uralkali from their car’s livery for the final day of preseason testing, with the future of the partnership in doubt.
Elsewhere, the European Handball Federation (EHF) has announced that it will review its partnership with Nord Stream 2 amid the ongoing conflict.
An official statement said that the EHF as of now has had ‘no direct contract’ with the Gazprom-owned company, which has been a partner of the federation since 2018.
“We hope that some principles of our sport can also serve as example in the current crisis,” said Michael Wiederer, president of the EHF.
“In handball every situation is solved in the spirit of fair play directly between the protagonists. The EHF hopes that despite the critical situation solutions via dialogues can be found to resolve the current conflict in the interest of the people concerned, and from our side the many protagonists being part of the world of handball.”