Ukraine’s Shaktar condemn Barca stars’ Russian message; FIFA extends contract suspension rule

May 23 – Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has condemned FC Barcelona players after their video message thanking Russian fans for their support on La Liga’s Telegram Channel. 

The club singled out a video message from Barcelona players Alejandro Balde and Sergi Roberto with words of gratitude to Barcelona’s Russian fans.

Palkin callled it “an intolerable and simply immoral act.”

In a statement, he said: “Ukrainian football club Shakhtar expresses its outrage concerning the posted video message from Barcelona players Alejandro Balde and Sergi Roberto with words of gratitude to football fans from Russia.”

“It is a second year of a bloody and unjustifiable military invasion by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainians became victims of this war, dozens of cities were destroyed, millions of people lost their homes and became refugees. The whole world united to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and condemned the invasion.

“Every day we do everything to hasten the victory of Ukraine and to protect the European values of freedom and democracy. The people of Poland provide special assistance to Ukraine: in particular, captain of Poland national team and Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski has repeatedly demonstrated his solidarity with Ukrainians.”

FIFA extends player contract ruling for Ukraine

On the same day as Palkin’s condemnation, the world federation FIFA extended the measure that allows players and coaches to suspend their employment contracts unilaterally until the end of June.

FIFA said that Annexe 7 to the RSTP has been adapted as follows: “In order to protect foreign players and coaches who have left the territory of Ukraine or Russia due to the conflict and who do not wish to currently return in view of the circumstances, those players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts with clubs affiliated to the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) or the Football Union of Russia (FUR) until 30 June 2024, provided that the clubs are duly informed of the suspension in writing by 1 July 2023.”

The extension is not applicable to those who are returned or remained in Ukraine or Russia.

To underwrite its decision, FIFA referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the recent proceedings CAS 2022/A/9016 FC Shakhtar Donetsk v. FIFA.

Palkin and Donetsk always believed that FIFA ‘overreached’ by allowing for contract suspensions, arguing that FIFA should not interfere in contractual relations.

The rule, in Palkin’s view, weakened Ukrainian clubs and exacerbated their financial plight.

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