FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia from international football

Image source: GETTY IMAGES

Russian football team in a file photo.

Strong points

  • The IOC has urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events
  • The decision paved the way for FIFA to exclude Russia from the World Cup ahead of qualifying playoffs on March 24
  • It’s unclear how the IOC’s request will affect Russian NHL hockey players and the tennis player

Russian teams were suspended from international football after the country invaded Ukraine.

The decision came from FIFA and UEFA on Monday, saying Russian national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice”.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with everyone affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and quickly so that football can once again be a vehicle for unity and peace between peoples.”

UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Earlier, international sporting bodies moved to further isolate Russia on Monday for its invasion of Ukraine and pushed Moscow to become a pariah on the playing field.

The International Olympic Committee has urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including the FIFA World Cup.

The IOC said it was necessary “to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all participants”.

The decision paved the way for FIFA, football’s governing body, to exclude Russia from the World Cup ahead of the March 24 qualifying round. Poland has already refused to play the scheduled game against Russia.

It is unclear how the IOC’s request will affect Russian NHL hockey players and tennis players, including top Daniil Medvedev, in Grand Slam, ATP and WTA tournaments outside of Federation authority. tennis international.

The Associated Press reported earlier that FIFA was in talks with European soccer body UEFA over details of the suspension of Russian national teams and clubs. People familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions before FIFA and UEFA decision makers ratify the ban later on Monday.

With a direct impact on Russia, which will play the World Cup qualifiers next month, FIFA already said on Sunday that it was discussing with the IOC the exclusion of the country from competitions “if the situation does not improve. quickly”.

The IOC also went directly after President Vladimir Putin, who made the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics a personal project. Putin’s Gold Olympic Order, awarded in 2001, has been withdrawn, the IOC said in a statement.

The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which encouraged Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.

The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart”, but noted that the impact of the war on Ukrainian sports and athletes who can no longer compete outweighs the potential harm to athletes from Russia and Belarus.

It was not an outright ban by the IOC, nor did it specifically suspend the National Olympic Committees of Russia and Belarus.

Where exclusion was “not possible on short notice for organizational or legal reasons”, teams from Russia and Belarus would have to compete as neutral athletes without a national flag, anthem or symbol, including at future Games Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

Russian Olympic committee chief Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement “there is only one comment – we categorically disagree”, adding that it would help national federations to challenge “decisions discriminatory”.

Sporting bodies across Europe had already moved against Russia on Monday by refusing to host or play against teams from the country.

Finland wants the Russian hockey team banned from the men’s world championships it will host in May, the Swiss football federation has said its women’s team will not face Russia in July in the European championship, and German soccer club Schalke said it had decided to end its long partnership with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Over the weekend, FIFA refused to exclude Russia from the World Cup. Instead, he said the country’s national team will have to compete under the name of its federation, the ‘Football Union of Russia’, as punishment. Besides Poland, potential opponents Sweden and the Czech Republic have said they would refuse to face Russia.

“The Swedish Football Association is disappointed with FIFA’s decision but is determined to continue working with other federations to cancel Russia’s matches in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers,” the club said on Monday. instance, citing “the illegal and deeply unjust invasion of Ukraine”.

The World Cup is due to start on November 21 in Qatar.

In European club football, Russian side Spartak Moscow are still set to play next week in the Europa League against German club Leipzig. UEFA cleared Spartak to take their place in Friday’s round of 16 draw, a day after Putin ordered the invasion to begin.

UEFA has called a meeting of its executive committee for later on Monday and is expected to exclude Russian teams from its competitions based on the IOC’s announcement. The FIFA Bureau only had to ask the six presidents of the regional confederations to confirm the decision in writing.

The moves are not without precedent. Following United Nations sanctions in 1992, FIFA and UEFA expelled Yugoslavia from their competitions when war broke out in the Balkans.

Apart from Schalke’s efforts to drop Gazprom as a partner, UEFA are also expected to see if they can cancel sponsorship deals with the company. Gazprom sponsors both the Champions League and the European Championship.

FIFA had attempted to compromise on Sunday by suggesting Russia play at neutral venues without its flag or anthem and under the name of the Russian Football Union.

This matches the sanctions imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in December 2020 to punish Russia for state-sponsored doping and concealment of cheating, and applied to the Tokyo Olympics last year and the Winter Games this year in Beijing.

If Russia takes on Poland as scheduled on March 24 and wins, the team will then face either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.

Polish Football Association president Cezary Kulesza said on Sunday it was “completely unacceptable” that FIFA had not immediately expelled Russia from World Cup qualifiers and said Poland “don’t was not interested in participating in this game of appearances”.

Another future opponent, Albania, also said on Sunday that they would not play against Russia in any sport. Russia and Albania are due to meet twice in June as part of the UEFA Nations League football tournament.

In hockey, the sport’s governing body has come under pressure from Finland and Switzerland to ban Russia and Belarus, both due to play in the world championships in May in Helsinki and Tampere.

Finnish Hockey Association president Harri Nummela said in a statement on Monday that he had held talks with the Zurich-based IIHF to exclude the two countries from the sport internationally.

(Reported by AP)


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