The partnership between Ukrainian champions, Shakhtar Donetsk and gambling operator Parimatch has ended, following the operator being sanctioned by the country’s government.
In developments that were surprising to many, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy took action against Parimatch after he alleged that money had been withdrawn from the firm in order to finance Russian activities.
The firm, which has donated significant amounts to the Ukrainian cause, has urged Zelenskyy to check information that it says has been ‘falsified’ and led to ‘unlawful violations’.
Parimatch confirmed following the sanctions that it had halted its domestic operations in Ukraine, which included its collaborations with league-leaders Shakhtar.
Issuing a statement on Linkedin, the group betting firm stated: “We inform you that throughout the entire period of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, we have never received requests from the SBU to clarify the suspension of the franchise in Russia. We ask you to check the information that was falsified during the decision of the National Security and Defense Council and take appropriate actions regarding all unlawful violations by the Security Service of Ukraine.
“We are ready for public discussion, ready to answer all questions from the media and law enforcement agencies, and are ready to defend our position in court.”
What it means for the firm’s English Premier League partnerships remains to be seen, with Parimatch also being linked with Newcastle United, Leicester City, Aston Villa and Chelsea FC.
A statement from Zelenskyy said: “These are more than 280 companies and 120 people who, through gambling business schemes, worked against Ukraine, withdrew funds from our state and financed various Russian schemes.
“It took some time to prepare the decision. It has been thoroughly worked out and closes schemes worth tens of billions.”
The operator also sponsors World Heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, whose sporting success has been a source of significant pride for Ukraine during the war, with the heavyweight being personally lauded by Zelenskyy and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
Usyk sits on the cusp of the biggest heavyweight clash of the modern era against Tyson Fury, however, the status of his partnership with Parimatch remains unknown in the face of government sanctions.