ESL Pro League suspends teams with ties to Russian government

Esports tournament organiser ESL Gaming has announced its decision to exclude teams with ‘apparent ties to the Russian government’ from participating in its ESL Pro League CS:GO circuit. 

According to the release, ESL has identified organisations such as and Gambit as entities that will be affected. 

Image credit: ESL

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The ban reportedly applies to individuals or organisations that may be under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. 

Athletes from affected organisations will be allowed to compete at ESL’s events under a neutral name, without representing their country, organisation or their teams’ sponsors. Furthermore, ESL has decided to pause all scheduled competitions in the CIS region for the time being. 

An ESL spokesperson commented in a press release: “We are all shocked and saddened by the Russian invasion into Ukraine and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution. After monitoring the situation, we are now putting an initial set of actions in place.

“We recognise that players are not complicit with this situation, and we do not think it is in the spirit of esports to impose sanctions on individual players. We will monitor and evaluate future competitions and make further decisions as the situation evolves.”

The tournament organiser is also working on actions to support the people in Ukraine with donations to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Moreover, the company will look to offer paid time off for employees to volunteer for humanitarian relief and also for affected employees. 

In a reaction to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, ESL Gaming joins numerous sports bodies and organisers in banning Russian athletes from representing the country at their events. 

BLAST Premier made a similar announcement on Tuesday, stating that no Russian-based teams will be invited to play in its events for the foreseeable future. Moreover, Ukrainian esports holding company WePlay Holding announced it has terminated all partnership agreements with companies from Russia and Belarus

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Today marks the eighth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In an emergency session, 141 out of the 193 member states of the United Nations voted for a resolution, denouncing Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The international criminal court (ICC) launched a war crimes investigation into Russia’s invasion. 

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