F1 ditches Russian TV deal
Formula 1 has terminated its broadcast deal with Russia’s Match TV, the general director of the channel has announced, condemning the step as “politicized.”
“Unfortunately, the 2022 [F1] season will not be shown on our TV channel, despite the long-term fulfillment of all financial and marketing obligations on our part,” Match TV general director Alexander Tashchin said.
“We regret this next politicized step on the part of Western colleagues and hope that numerous motorsport fans in Russia will still see Formula 1 on the big screen and with the comments of our voice of Formula 1, Alexey Popov,” he added, referring to the respected commentator who covers races around the world.
Match TV agreed a three-year deal with Formula 1 – which is owned by US media giant Liberty Media – in July of 2020 for exclusive broadcast rights in Russia to cover all F1 racing and qualifying.
The decision to terminate the deal comes after Formula 1 bosses ended their contract with the organizers of the Russian Grand Prix in light of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, meaning this year’s Sochi race scheduled for September has been canceled as well as the planned move to the Igora Drive circuit outside St. Petersburg in 2023.
Russian drivers were cleared to compete by the FIA in a neutral capacity, although American team Haas has released Nikita Mazepin – the only Russian racer in F1 – and canceled its sponsorship deal with Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali.
Nikita Mazepin and his businessman father Dmitry, who is part-owner of Uralkali, have been placed on the EU sanctions list against Russia.
The decision to ditch F1 broadcasts in Russia follows similar steps from the likes of the English Premier League and the French Ligue 1.
Since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine last month, the nation’s sports stars have faced sweeping sanctions after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that no athletes from the country should be invited to international competitions.
Russian officials have condemned the bans as discriminatory and going against the notion that sport should be separate from politics.