Russian broadcaster shows pro-Ukraine message during Manchester derby despite cutting pre-game footage to hide support
7th March 2022

A RUSSIAN broadcaster showed pro-Ukraine messages during the Manchester derby – despite early cutting out their pre-game footage to hide the support for the invaded nation.

Captains wore blue and yellow armbands, there were tributes before kick-offs and the Ukrainian flag and the words 'Football Stands Together' were displayed across stadiums and online.

It was a public and defiant message of unity with the people of Ukraine who are facing tragic circumstances after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion last month and war continues to rage.

The pictures of the pre-match applause around the centre circle were hidden from Russian viewers watching on Okko Sport as they headed straight to the match action.

As reported by The Athletic, during the first half the clock in the top-left of the TV screen was replaced by the phrase 'Football Stands Together'.

And because Okko use the feed provided directly by the supplier, they could not alter the pictures.

It is understood the Russian TV station received a number of complaints.

Last Monday, Okko Sport hid the words 'Stop Invasion' during the LaLiga clash between Granada and Cadiz.

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An Okko spokesperson said of the messaging during the 4-1 thumping victory for City at the Etihad: “Since the signal is transmitted by the copyright holder, the display of this phrase was done by the broadcast signal copyright holder.”

Okko Sport pay £6.24million per season for Premier League rights.

The company is owned by state-owned bank Sberbank which was added to Britain's Russian sanctioned list – although matches are still able to be shown on their channel for now.

Reports last week suggested the Prem could rip up a new six-year TV deal in Russia with Match TV worth £41m.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the Financial Times’ Business of Football Summit: "With regards to our broadcast contracts in Russia, clearly they are under review.

"We’re looking at the contracts very closely in terms of suspension, termination. It’s happening right now. It’s a fast-moving situation."

Elsewhere, Andriy Shevchenko revealed all 20 Premier League agreed to welcome Ukrainian youngsters into their academies to train.

Shevchenko's former owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is selling Chelsea following the brutal assault by his nation on Ukraine.

And Brighton's men's and women's teams both wore their yellow and blue kits this weekend – with all profits from the ongoing sales of the strips going to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

Russians are still able to play the Premier League's Fantasy Football game with the website accessible – however, there are again messages of support for Ukraine splashed across the website.

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