Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a lot of fallout in the sports world, from FIFA and the IIHF suspending Russian national teams to EA’s video games doing the same to pressure on Russian owners like Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich to sell. And in the media world, companies like Netflix and Apple are pausing operations in Russia. The latest development here is WWE ending a partnership with Russian broadcaster Match and shutting down WWE Network in Russia:
Wow. #WWE just announced it is terminating broadcast relationships with Russia and has ended WWE Network services in the country. pic.twitter.com/pjmBj7CRYJ
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) March 3, 2022
As that statement goes on to say, that means there will be no (legal) access to WWE events in Russia. That covers the current weekly shows, the upcoming WrestleMania 38 (set for April 2-3), and the WWE Network (which is now part of Peacock in the U.S., but exists separately elsewhere) library of archival content.
Match was founded in 2015 and is part of Gazprom Media (Russia’s largest media company, which began as an offshoot of currently-state-controlled oil and gas company Gazprom). Its rights include UEFA and FIFA soccer competitions (including the European Championships, the UEFA Champions League, and the World Cup), the 2020 Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Olympics, IIHF competitions including the world championships, Formula 1 races, and the NHL. The latter two in particular are also seeing some deals revoked and paused; F1 terminated the Russian Grand Prix contract Thursday (after previously moving this year’s September race out of Russia), and the NHL condemned Russia’s invasion Monday in an announcement saying “we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites.” We’ll see if any further Russian sports broadcasting deals are cut over this.
[Jon Alba on Twitter; WWE Network logo from Wrestling Inc.]