Russian eSports chiefs call for action against Ukrainian studio

The group claimed that Russian athletes are being attacked and sporting traditions are being destroyed

Russian athletes have been treated harshly while decades of sporting traditions have been destroyed by sanctions against them, the Russian eSports Federation has said while calling for action against pro-Ukraine commentators who they say made anti-Russian statements including insults towards the country's President, Vladimir Putin.

The Russian eSports Federation claimed that Russian teams have been banned from some tournaments in their sport, with two teams disqualified from one competition and the team withdrawing from a tournament in Dubai because of what leaders called "huge pressure from the organizers".

The "final straw" in what the federation sees as "anti-Russian rhetoric in sports" came in a semifinal match between Ukrainian team NAVI and European team G2.

Ukrainian studio Maincast, which is said to have hosted the official Russian-language broadcast, was accused by the federation of employing commentators who repeatedly mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, called for "unrest in the Russian Federation" and directed barbs at Putin.

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"We have always believed that sport should remain outside of politics, contributing to the rapprochement of people," the federation said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, both Russian eSportsmen and teams, as well as the entire Russian-speaking audience of eSports competitions, were subjected to discriminatory and offensive actions.

"We consider such actions unacceptable and degrading to human dignity. Over the years, we have worked and interacted side by side with Ukrainian colleagues and we believe that many do not share the position of their colleagues from [broadcasters] Maincast.

"We send requests to the relevant departments of the Russian Federation with a call to assess the actions of Ukrainian colleagues and find a technical opportunity to block the accounts of the Maincast studio and associated opinion leaders on social platforms in the Russian Federation. Such behavior in sports and computer sports is unacceptable.

"We also call for blocking the accounts of the Ukrainian studio WePlay, which comes out with anti-Russian slogans, blackmails Russian teams and illegally removes them from participation in international tournaments."

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The federation said it had been concerned by the neglect and destruction of "the fundamental traditions of sports that have been laid down for decades" since the invasion of Ukraine began.

"The ties between people who were united by sports and the desire for perfection of their skills are also being destroyed," it said of the punishments that have become prevalent among sporting organizations.

"Our Russian athletes are now being subjected to attacks, pressure and other unsportsmanlike actions.

"The Russian eSports Federation is making every effort to protect the rights of Russian e-sports players and teams, as well as to ensure their participation in the international arena.

"After all, it is the ability to unite people around the world and the absence of borders between them that is the main value of eSports. Peace for everyone."

Three Russians are part of NAVI, according to the federation, which said that a Russian also plays for G2.

The statement added that more than 300,000 viewers had watched the broadcast, including at least 200,000 from Russia.

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