Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov pictured in Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2015.
Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Everton has suspended all business 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 signage and messaging relating to USM, owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, around the club and training ground. Megafon sponsors the club’s women’s jerseys, which will now be renamed.
The Toffees’ day schedule will also be reprinted without any reference to Russian-backed sponsorship. Sky Sports News understands the whole rebranding will cost the club around £500,000.
A statement from Everton read: “Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine.
“This tragic situation must end as soon as possible and any further loss of life must be avoided.
“The players, coaching staff and everyone who works at Everton give their full support to our player Vitalii Mykolenko and his family and will continue to do so.”
The news comes after Labor MP Chris Bryant told the Toffees to end their involvement with billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is not officially involved with Everton but his company USM sponsored the club’s training ground, while another, Megafon, was Everton’s main women’s shirt sponsor.
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The 68-year-old had his assets frozen Monday by the European Union 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 soon be on a UK list and Everton should definitely cut ties with him already.”
Usmanov released a statement on Tuesday via the International Fencing Federation of which he had been president since 2008. The statement read: “On February 28, 2022, I became the target of restrictive measures imposed by the European Union.
“I believe that such a decision is unjust and the reasons given to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations that undermine my honor, my dignity and my commercial reputation.
“I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation. I hereby suspend the exercise of my functions as President of the International Fencing Federation with immediate effect until justice is restored.”
“Everton chose not to wait”
Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:
“The bottom line of all this is Alisher Usmanov, who is the owner of all these companies, who has been sanctioned by the European Union and also by the United States.
“Usmanov is a long-time business partner of Farhad Moshiri, owner of 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 sanctioned by the UK government to take this step of ending their sponsorship deal with these countries. They did it themselves, today.”
Mykolenko attacks Russian players
Everton Ukrainian defender Mykolenko, who the Toffees pledged to continue supporting in their latest statement, hit out at the Russian players for their silence on the invasion of Ukraine in an expletive statement.
The defender, who joined Everton from Dynamo Kyiv in January, hugged fellow international Oleksandr Zinchenko ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Everton on Saturday.
But while the footballing world’s support for Ukraine has been widespread, Cherkasy-born Mykolenko is furious that it hasn’t extended to players in the Russia football team.
In a swearing Instagram post in his native language, the 22-year-old called out Russia captain Artem Dzyuba and said the players would “never be forgiven” for their actions.
The post on his Instagram Story read: “While you b***h and your c**p footballers are silent, @artem.dzyuba, civilians are being killed in Ukraine. You and especially your children will be locked in your s* **hole for your whole life. And I’m sincerely happy about that. You will never be forgiven.”
Mykolenko’s post came the day after Russia were suspended from all competitions by FIFA and UEFA, just weeks before they faced Poland in a Cup play-off semi-final of the world.