China are planning to cancel all Premier League broadcasts as soon as this weekend in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, reports claim. All 20 top-flight clubs are planning to show their support for Ukraine as the country continues to defend its independence, with various gestures already agreed and in the pipeline.
The first of these started last Saturday when Everton and Manchester City’s players paid their respects to the people of Ukraine – including players Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko – in front of an applauding Goodison Park.
Southampton and Brighton will be wearing their yellow and blue kits while a number of clubs will also be walking out with the flag of Ukraine – either held around the players or printed on their shirts.
All 20 captains will be sporting special armbands in the colours of Ukraine and fans have also been encouraged to show their support ahead of kick-off.
The phrase ‘Football Stands Together’ will be shown on big screens around the country starting with Leicester’s home clash with Leeds on Saturday afternoon.
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Now BBC Sport claim China’s decision to block out the broadcasts of Premier League matches is in line with their support of Russia.
The Far East nation have already denounced economic sanctions that have been imposed against Russia by the UK and European Union.
Instead, they are blaming the United States and its NATO allies for the actions of Russia against Ukraine.
As a result, they play to show their support for Putin with a blackout of all Premier League action this weekend, from Saturday through to Monday and potentially beyond.
Meanwhile, the Premier League have also revealed that their multi-million-pound Russian TV deal is also facing the prospect of suspension following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Richard Masters, the league’s chief executive, has now confirmed the agreements are currently under review.
He said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit: “With regards to our broadcast contracts in Russia, clearly they’re under review.”
Masters also condemned the actions of Russia by vowing to ensure the Premier League show their full support for Ukraine in this weekend’s fixtures.
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“I’d like the Russian people to see the strength of feeling in the Premier League and in English football this weekend,” Masters added.
“We’re looking at (the contracts) very closely in terms of suspension, termination. It’s happening right now. It’s a fast-moving situation.”
At the moment, all Premier League matches are currently on course to be aired in Russia over the next few days.
But chiefs could soon follow in the footsteps of companies such as Apple, who have blocked the sales of their products in Russia.