The 17-year-long commercial relationship between US sportswear giant Nike and Russian soccer team Spartak Moscow has been brought to an end by the brand with immediate effect.
The move, made public by Spartak yesterday (May 12), comes with Russian clubs unable to compete in the prestigious and lucrative pan-European competitions organized by the UEFA governing body next season as part of a wider set of punishments instigated in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February.
In a statement made to Reuters earlier today (May 13), Nike is quoted as saying that it had informed Spartak of the move “given UEFA’s decision to suspend all Russian clubs from UEFA competition.”
The pair first partnered up in 2005, with the kit supply deal being renewed on an annual basis for each of the last four seasons.
It has been reported that the Russian club is now looking for a new supplier, which in light of myriad European and US brands shunning prospective Russian clients as a result of the Ukraine conflict, may be a lengthy and/or close-to-home process.
Spartak had been one of Russia’s two representatives in the second-tier UEFA Europa League competition at the time of the invasion, after which they were quickly removed from the 2021-22 edition by UEFA.
The suspension of Russian sides from the 2022-23 competition came as one part of a wider expansion of existing punishments that were put in place in the initial days after the invasion began.
Other action taken includes the Russian women’s national team being banned from the upcoming UEFA women’s European Championships, and a formal declaration that any bids from the country to host the men’s Euros in either 2028 or 2032 will be declared ineligible.
The men’s national team, which had already been thrown out of the qualification process for the 2022 FIFA World Cup by soccer’s worldwide governing body, has also now been disqualified from the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League. It will automatically be ranked fourth and bottom of the group it was scheduled to be in, meaning relegation will follow.
In terms of the sanctions on Russian clubs, none of the various UEFA pan-continental competitions (either men’s or women’s) will feature Russian sides next season. This ruling covers the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Europa Conference League.