Russians lose Messi as France cuts broadcasts
Russian fans have had French football action pulled from their screens after bosses at the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) suspended their contract with broadcaster Match TV.
The LFP announced on Friday night that it was cutting broadcasts with its only TV provider in Russia.
“The LFP has decided to suspend from this day the contract to broadcast Ligue 1 Uber Eats in Russia on the Match TV channel,” read a brief announcement on the LFP’s website.
Match TV acquired the Ligue 1 rights in August of last year in a contract said to cover three seasons.
While not traditionally as popular as the likes of the English Premier League or Spanish La Liga, the French top tier currently boasts a constellation of stars including Paris Saint-Germain trio Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Many Russian fans were also keen to follow the fortunes of highly-rated national team midfielder Aleksandr Golovin at Monaco – one of the few Russian stars to play his football in a major European league.
The French football authorities have taken the step amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this week, English Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the competition’s broadcasting deal with Russian partner Okko was “under review.”
While the English and French leagues are among those to show overt pro-Ukrainian support, reports have stated that China will not broadcast English Premier League matches this weekend because of numerous displays planned by the league.
Elsewhere, football organization The European Leagues – which comprises 38 professional leagues across the continent – announced on Friday that it was expelling Russia’s Premier League and Football National League, citing “extraordinary and tragic circumstances.”
Russian and Belarusian teams have already been banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions, although the Russian Football Union (RFU) has said it will appeal that decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Russian officials and sporting organizations have described the sweeping sanctions from various global federations as discriminatory, accusing them of allowing politics and geopolitics to dictate the fortunes of ordinary athletes.