On Monday, UEFA announced the suspension of Spartak Moscow, the club of Super Eagles winger Victor Moses, from the Europa League.
Another Super Eagles star, Alex Iwobi may be indirectly affected by another sanction by Europe. The European Union has frozen the asset of Uzbek-born billionaire and investor at Iwobi’s Premier League club Everton, Alisher Usmanov.
Usmanov, a former second largest shareholder at Arsenal is believed to have close ties with Russia’s Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin. With the sanction by the EU, he’s not allowed to conduct business in Europe or enter any of its territory in an attempt to limit the powers of Putin and his associates.
In a document released on Monday, the EU said Usmanov is a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin”.
The document added that “(Usmanov) 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.”
Usmanov, who has close ties with Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s majority shareholder was also said to have “actively supported materially or financially Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine” and “actively supported the Russian government’s policies of destabilisation of Ukraine”.
Moshiri has a stake in MegaFon, a company owned by Usmanov. MegaFon and Yota, a Russian smartphone company sponsor Everton’s female team.
Usmanov’s USM is also the sponsor of Everton’s Finch Farm training base since 2017 and currently holds a $40m stadium naming rights option on Everton’s new proposed ground.
Iwobi was an Arsenal player when Usmanov was in the boardroom as the Gunners’ second largest shareholder behind Stan Kroenke.
The Super Eagles midfielder’s club are not expected to be directly affected by EU’s sanctions but may be forced to relinquish Usmanov’s assets and investments in the team.