The escalating bans on Russia and Belarus from sports competitions will have long-term consequences for both countries, says a University of Guelph sports management expert.
The bans are not only a way to add pressure to the countries — notably, to address Russia’s actions in Ukraine — but they serve as a reminder that sport is a privilege, said Dr. Ann Pegoraro, the co-director of the National Network for Research on Gender Equity in Canadian Sport and a professor in U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics.
This week, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) banned both countries indefinitely from playing in international competitions, including from the World Cup. This means Russia will be eliminated from the 2022 World Cup and the women’s team from the EUROS.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) also banned Russia from hockey tournaments.
More recently, Canada’s basketball team refused to play Russia, putting pressure on the International Basketball Federation to take actions similar to those of FIFA, the UEFA, and the IIHF. The International Paralympic Committee has also announced the Russian Olympic Committee and Belarus are banned from competing. Ukraine, however, will compete.
No Sports, No Money, No Privileges
As the bans increase and the pressure mounts, Russia will begin to see economic consequences, said Pegoraro. A ban from the World Cup means a loss of guaranteed funding for any qualifying team, which in turn leads to a loss of media revenues usually earned from games played, she added.
“All of this will have a long term impact on Russian sport – less money for development and the inability to compete internationally,” said Pegoraro.
Speaking to The Hockey News, she explained the bans will have a large, long-term effect on Russian hockey. A lack of funding, she said, will lead to a decrease in the visibility of Russian players in the sport, especially for the women’s teams.
In an interview with Yahoo! Canada Sports, Pegoraro noted sports are used as “an image-building tool” to showcase national pride, especially in hockey, where Russians are often prominent.
“Images of Russian athletes creating moments of nationalistic pride through sporting success will not be seen for some time to come,” she told the media outlet.
It’s not just Russian athletes and clubs who will be affected.
“This will be a personal injury for Vladimir Putin,” said Pegoraro, noting the Russian president has a long love of sport, using it to build up his own image and that of Russia.
“These bans are removing the privilege of sport from Russia, and also squeezing it financially with loss of revenue,” she said. “Sport is a privilege, not a right.”
Pegoraro is the Lang Chair in Sport Management and the director of the International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership. Her research interests include sport consumers, marketing and communication.
She is available for interviews.
Dr. Ann Pegoraro