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Russia suspended by Fifa and Uefa from all competitions

Soccer governing bodies remove Russia from fixtures until further notice.

1 March 2022 PA

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  • Uefa also cancels sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom
  • Other sports governing bodies discuss bans

Russia has been suspended from all Uefa and Fifa competitions, including the World Cup playoffs, the soccer governing bodies have announced.

Continental bosses Uefa and global governors Fifa have made the joint decision on a temporary expulsion for Russia from all club and national fixtures.

Both Uefa and Fifa have removed Russia from all fixtures until ‘football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people’.

A joint Uefa and Fifa statement confirmed the move that will further isolate Russia’s sporting situation amid the invasion of Ukraine.

‘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,’ read the statement.

‘These decisions were adopted today by the Bureau of the Fifa Council and the Executive Committee of Uefa, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.

‘Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.’

The suspension should put a stop to Russia’s World Cup playoff semi-final next month.

Spartak Moscow’s removal from the Uefa Europa League will hand RB Leipzig direct progression into the European second-tier competition’s quarter-finals.

European soccer body Uefa also confirmed the cessation of its sponsorship deals with Russian energy company Gazprom, worth around UK£34 million (US$45.6 million) a season.

‘Uefa has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions,’ read a Uefa statement.

‘The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the Uefa Champions League, Uefa national team competitions and Uefa Euro 2024.’

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board issued a recommendation to international sports federations earlier on 28th February to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials and teams from international competitions wherever possible.

That IOC executive board decision effectively gave a green light to Fifa to go further than it previously had, and to exclude Russia from the World Cup.

The IOC said the exclusion recommendation had been made ‘in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants’.

It is the strongest move taken yet by the international sports community to isolate Russia from global competition.

World Rugby denounced Russia’s ‘aggressive invasion’, adding the country’s actions have been facilitated by Belarus, and the governing body has therefore decided to suspend both countries ‘from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby activities until further notice’ with full and immediate effect.

The Rugby Union of Russia (RUR) has also been suspended from World Rugby membership.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) also issued a statement calling for the removal of Russia and Belarus from all top sporting competition.

Fifa had faced criticism over its initial decision on 27th February night to allow Russia to continue to compete in the men’s World Cup playoffs, but on neutral territory and under the Football Union of Russia banner.

Football’s world players’ union, FifPro, also called for the expulsion of the Russian Football Union (RFU).

‘Russia’s aggression and the united response of democracies around the world have shown that the defence of human dignity and the rule of law are being tested,’ a FifPro statement read.

‘Football, and sport, has its own responsibility to respond in turn. Its past policies of political neutrality have failed the test of time, and today must mark a turning point for how sport engages with society, how it stands for democracy and human rights.

‘A new approach, consistently applied, that rests on sport’s proclaimed values is urgently needed.’

Earlier on 28th February, the Scottish Football Association (SFA), the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish FA joined the English and Welsh FAs in refusing to face Russia in an international fixture at any level.

The SFA and FAI also offered their support to the Ukrainian federation with regard to the organisation of matches scheduled against the team later this year.

Scotland are due to host Ukraine in a World Cup playoff semi-final in March and then in the Nations League in June, with an away fixture set for September.

The Republic of Ireland are due to play Ukraine twice in the Nations League in June, first at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and then at a neutral venue unless current Uefa guidance changes.

Formula One’s governing body was due to hold an emergency meeting on 1st March to discuss the future of Russian driver Nikita Mazepin.

The Automobile Federation of Ukraine president Leonid Kostyuchenko has demanded the International Automobile Federation (FIA) bans all Russian and Belarusian drivers from competing outside of their own countries.

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina heaped pressure on the sport’s governing bodies to remove Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition.

‘We, Ukrainian players, requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems,’ Svitolina posted on Instagram.

‘Accordingly I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organisations take this necessary decision.

‘I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland.

‘Moreover, I wish to play tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.’

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from all competitions until further notice.

Russia has also lost hosting rights for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

‘The IIHF strongly condemns the use of military force and urges the use of diplomatic means to solve the conflict,’ read an IIHF statement.

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