English Premier League club Everton said Wednesday they had “suspended with immediate effect” sponsorship agreements with several companies in which Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has a stake, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota,” said an Everton statement.
Uzbek-born Usmanov’s USM Holdings sponsors Everton’s training ground, with an initial five-year deal announced in 2017.
It also has an option on naming rights for the Toffees’ new stadium — a deal worth £30 million ($40 million) to the Merseyside club.
The 68-year-old Usmanov, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already had his assets frozen by the European Union as part of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Everton added they were “shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine,” as they called for a “tragic situation” to end as soon as possible.
The Toffees have an Ukrainian player in Vitalli Myolenko, with their statement saying they were providing the defender and his family with our “full support” and “will continue to do so”.
An update in the Official Journal of the European Union said Usmanov, a long-time business partner of Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, was among the 26 individuals targeted with sanctions on Monday.
Usmanov contested the EU punishment while announcing Tuesday he was stepping aside, for the time being, from his position as president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE).
“I believe that such decision is unfair, and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honor (sic), dignity and business reputation,” he wrote in a statement posted on the FIE website.
“I will use all legal means to protect my honor (sic) and reputation.
“I hereby suspend the exercise of my duties as the president of the International Fencing Federation effective immediately until justice is restored.”
The EU declaration said restrictive measures included “an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities”.
Describing Usmanov as someone with particularly close ties to Putin, it added: “He has been referred to as one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite oligarchs.
“He is considered to be one of Russia’s businessmen-officials, who were entrusted with servicing financial flows, but their positions depend on the will of the President.”