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Schalke remain keen on Putin visit

Schalke remain keen to visit Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and insist there is no problem with the club's sponsorship deal involving Gazprom.

Clemens Toennies and Vladimir Putin hold up a Schalke shirt in Dresden in 2006.
Clemens Toennies shares a friendship with Vladimir Putin.

However, any potential trip to Russia will wait until after the World Cup, the club’s chairman Clemens Toennies has told Westline, adding that the ties to Gazprom remain unaffected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Fans of the Royal Blues have previously written to the club expressing concern about the association to Gazprom and the Russian government who hold a large stake in the global gas company.

But the Bundesliga side has vowed to honour their deal with Gazprom, who also sponsor the UEFA Champions League.

“You have to adhere to contracts and ties should not be abandoned,” Toennies told Handelsblatt.

“Should we provoke a World War? We do care what Russia does, we have a high degree of responsibility there. But there will be a time after the crisis. We can’t cut all ties.”

Earlier this year, following a meeting at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Toennies had revealed that Putin invited the Bundesliga side to meet him in Russia.

At that time, the chairman was criticised from within the club as well as by parts of the German media. Sporting director Horst Heldt said that currently there are no plans to take up on the offer. 

But Toennies has said that the invitation remains open, “but not before the World Cup.”

While the Russian president now has other, more important things to worry about, the Schalke squad “would love to see the Kremlin and is interested in a visit to Moscow.”

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