Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov in Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2015.
Sasha Mordovets | News Getty Images | Getty Images
Everton has suspended all commercial and sponsorship activities with Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota with immediate effect following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Premier League club will remove all signs and messages relating to USM, owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, around the club and at the training ground. MegaFon sponsors women’s club t-shirts, which will now be renamed.
The Toffees game day program will also be reprinted without any reference to Russian sponsorship. Sky Sports News understands that the entire rebrand will cost the club around £500,000.
Everton said in a statement: “Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine.
“This tragic situation must be brought to an end as soon as possible and any further loss of life must be avoided.
“The players, the coaching staff and everyone who works at Everton give their full support to our player Vitaliy Mykolenko and his family and will continue to do so.”
The news comes after Labor MP Chris Bryant told the Toffees to end their partnership with billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is not officially affiliated with Everton but his USM firm sponsored the club’s training ground and another, MegaFon, was the main Everton women’s jersey sponsor.
Read more stories from Sky Sports
On Monday, the European Union froze the assets of a 68-year-old citizen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Bryant said last week: “Alisher Usmanov has already been sanctioned by the EU, but not yet by the UK. But I suspect he will be on the UK list pretty soon and Everton should definitely cut ties with him. already.”
On Tuesday, Usmanov issued a statement through the International Fencing Federation, of which he has been president since 2008. The statement said: “On February 28, 2022, I was subject to restrictive measures imposed by the European Union.
“I consider such a decision unfair, and the reasons that justify the sanctions are a set of false and slanderous accusations that damage my honor, dignity and business reputation.
“I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation. I hereby suspend my duties as President of the International Fencing Federation, effective immediately, until justice is restored.”
Kave Solhekol from Sky Sports News:
“At the heart of all this is Alisher Usmanov, who is the owner of all these companies, who is under the sanctions of the European Union, as well as the United States.
Usmanov is a longtime business partner of Farhad Moshiri, who owns Everton Football Club, and is also, according to the EU, a pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Vladimir Putin.
Everton did not wait for Usmanov to be subject to UK government sanctions to take this step of ending sponsorship deals with these countries. Today they did it themselves.”
Everton’s Ukrainian defender Mykolenko, whom the Iris vowed to continue supporting in their latest statement, lashed out at the Russian players for their silence on the invasion of Ukraine.
The defender, who joined Everton from Dynamo Kyiv in January, hugged his international colleague Oleksandr Zinchenko ahead of Manchester City’s match against Everton on Saturday.
But while Ukraine’s support for Ukraine from the football world has been widespread, Cherkasy native Mykolenko is outraged that it hasn’t extended to players on the Russian national football team.
In an Instagram post full of swear words in his native language, the 22-year-old named Russian team captain Artyom Dziuba and said the players “will never be forgiven” for their actions.
A post on his Instagram stories said: “While you, b**a, and your f**k football players are silent, @artem.dzyuba, civilians are being killed in Ukraine. You and most importantly your children will be locked in your *** hole for life. And I’m really happy about it. You will never be forgiven.”
Mikolenko’s message comes a day after FIFA and UEFA banned Russia from all competitions, just weeks before they were scheduled to face Poland in the World Cup play-off semi-finals.