German soccer club removes Russian firm Gazprom from jerseys

German soccer club removes Russian firm Gazprom from jerseys
Advertisement of the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom displayed on an advertising board as Benfica fans attend the second half of the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Benfica and Ajax at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — The logo of Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom is being removed from the jerseys of German soccer team Schalke following Russia’s wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday.

Schalke said the logo will be replaced by lettering reading “Schalke 04” instead following what it called “recent developments.”

A senior Gazprom executive had already quit the supervisory board of Schalke earlier Thursday after being a target of U.S. sanctions.

Matthias Warnig is CEO of the newly built but never operated Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is a multibillion-dollar project of Gazprom and European companies.

Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke said Warnig informed the board would he step down with immediate effect from his position after two years as a representative of main sponsor Gazprom.

German newspaper Bild this week began covering the Gazprom logos on Schalke jerseys with “Freedom for Ukraine” to protest against Russia’s deepening military intervention in Ukraine.

Gazprom has been providing sponsorship funding to Schalke, which was relegated to the second division last year, since 2006 with a deal announced on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived for a state visit to Germany.

Gazprom’s branding has had an even greater profile this week in European football through its sponsorship of the Champions League. Its logos have been flashing around the field during round of 16 matches and featured on UEFA’s broadcasts.

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