World Players Association Statement on Global Sport’s Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Nyon, Switzerland, 28 February 2022 The World Players Association stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and athletes, player associations, civil society and peaceful people everywhere in unequivocally condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s actions represent not only an attack on a sovereign state, but on the fundamental values of the international community including human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The global sport community has for too long enabled the Russian state’s “sportswashing” as it undermined human rights and required standards of international conduct in plain sight. The global sport community must now use its significant leverage and stand with governments and institutions throughout the world in taking the strongest possible action in reply, including sanctions. An ineffective response from the global sport community risks undermining the solidarity and effectiveness of global efforts.

Given Russia’s repeated violations of the Olympic Truce, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in particular must without delay ensure:

  • The immediate suspension of Russian federations from the international sporting system (in particular, the Russian National Olympic and Paralympic Committee). This must regrettably extend to the exclusion of Russian national teams and their athletes from international tournaments and events until this war of aggression ends.
  • The withdrawal and suspension of Russia hosting events with immediate effect.
  • Russian nationals who have been targeted for sanctions, or those with close links to them, must be prohibited from holding leadership positions on the boards of international sport federations.

We further urge sport governing bodies to review their business relationships and sever ties with sanctioned corporations and individuals linked to the leadership of the Russian state.

These steps must be accompanied by deep reflection and a genuine commitment from all stakeholders in the global sport community to fulfill their responsibilities and deliver the systemic change required so that the reputation of sport can no longer be undermined by bad actors.

The global player association movement has long advocated for global sport bodies to make binding human rights commitments, undertake human rights due diligence, meaningfully engage with athletes and affected groups, and identify and mitigate against human rights related harms which are essential reforms on this pathway to overdue change.

We will continue to support, encourage and stand united with all efforts to end this horrible war.

-ENDS-

The World Players Association, part of UNI Global Union, is the exclusive global voice of organised players and athletes across professional sport. It brings together 85,000 players through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries. Its role is to ensure that the voice of organised players is heard at the highest levels in the decision-making of international sport.

 For more information, please contact: Leonie Guguen, Senior Communications Manager, UNI Global Union, leonie.guguen@uniglobalunion.org

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Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.