English Premier League club Everton said Wednesday they were suspending with “immediate effect” sponsorship agreements with three companies in which Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has a stake following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine,” said a club statement.
“This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided.”
Everton’s statement added: “The players, coaching staff and everyone working at Everton is providing full support to our (Ukrainian) player Vitalii Mykolenko and his family and will continue to do so.
“The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota.”
Usmanov, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has a major stake in the three companies.
The 68-year-old Usmanov had already had his assets frozen by the European Union as part of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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.
The 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.