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Bowing to pressure, FIFA suspends Russia from World Cup

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022. 12:41 pm CST.

Photo from FIFA.com

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) have jointly suspended the Russian national team and clubs from all international competitions including the World Cup.

The united FIFA/UEFA move comes after the International Olympic Committee called on sports federations and sports organizers to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events and after FIFA was criticized for not banning Russia from the World Cup.

Earlier, FIFA were said to have been in “advanced discussions” to suspend Russia outright and they ended up doing just that.

“Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” said the FIFA press release.

FIFA said the decisions were adopted by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” said the statement adding that both presidents of FIFA and UEFA hoped the situation in Ukraine “will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people”.

On Sunday, FIFA said that Russian teams could continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, but without the Russian flag and anthem, and that their home games had to be played on neutral territory and behind closed doors. But that decision did not sit well with the countries that were next in line to play Russia. Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said they would not play against Russia, and they were followed by other countries including France, England, and the Netherlands.

Poland who are scheduled to play Russia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24 said it was “totally unacceptable” and that they would not play against Russia under any circumstance. Sweden or the Czech Republic, who could possibly face Russia on March 29 for a place in the Qatar World Cup, also said they would not play against Russia either.

The English FA also said that they would not play against Russia “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership”.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet said on Sunday that he “certainly would not oppose the expulsion of Russia”.

The Dutch Football Federation joined with the other federations saying that the Netherlands would not suit up against Russia or Belarus “until further notice”.

For their part, the Global players’ union FIFPro said on Monday in a statement that it “strongly disagrees” with FIFA criticizing the football world governing body for “imposing the lightest of sanctions on the Russian Football Union”.

UEFA, which has now joined FUFA in banning Russian teams from its competitions, had already moved the Champions League final set for May 28 from St Petersburg to Paris.


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