The logo of major Champions League sponsor Gazprom has been removed from UEFA-branded material on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine, ahead of Saturday’s final between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
The presence of Russia’s state gas company angered some Ukrainians, so the logos were hurriedly removed from a “Champions Festival” on Kiev’s main street.
As of Tuesday, tarpaulins covered boards bearing sponsor names to hide the Gazprom logo, and other displays were folded in half.
The cover-up is explicitly political, the Kiev city government said.
“Russia’s actions — the annexation of Crimea, war in the east, and, as a result, our attitude to everything and everyone linked to the aggressor country — are unfortunately not clear to everyone in the world,” the Kiev government’s chief representative for Champions League preparations, Andriy Miroshnychenko, said in a statement. “However, I hope that we will still reach full understanding from UEFA.”
UEFA said in a statement that “there was a misunderstanding regarding this partner’s visibility at the Champions Festival. This has now been clarified and no such branding will be visible.”
Ukraine-Russia relations are tense because of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and its backing for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
After frequent disputes over gas pricing, Ukrainians see Gazprom as an example of Russia abusing its control of energy supplies to influence its neighbor.