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WWE ends Russia broadcast partnership

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. said it is ending its partnership with Russian broadcaster Match and shutting down the WWE Network in the country.

“The move eliminates access in Russia to any WWE programming, including the company’s weekly Raw, SmackDown and NXT shows, its on-demand library, and all of its premium live events, including WrestleMania 38,” the company said.

The Russian broadcaster Match TV is a federal public channel owned by Gazprom Media, which also owns a raft of staunchly pro-Kremlin outlets and other publications.

In its previous filings, WWE doesn’t break out revenue figures in Russia, but it saw $147.9 million in revenue in 2021 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, representing less than 15% of the company’s $1.09 billion in annual revenue.

Other sports and entertainment companies have moved to cut ties with Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. FIFA has said ahead of the World Cup qualifying playoffs that it will prevent any national-team games from taking place on Russian soil and forbid Russia from competing under its own flag or using the Russian national anthem.

However, FIFA stopped short of suspending Russia from competing, requiring instead its team be known as the “Football Union of Russia.”

And Electronic Arts Inc. on Wednesday said it had started to remove the Russian national team and all Russian clubs from three videogames in its hit FIFA franchise. The company also said it plans to remove Russian and Belarusian teams from its “NHL 22” game in the coming weeks. The Wall Street Journal

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