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FIFA, UEFA ban Russia and all Russian clubs from World football competitions

FIFA president Gianni Infantino pictured holding the World Cup trophy while talking to Vladimir Putin at Russia 2018  IMAGO/ULMER Pressebildagentur

FIFA president Gianni Infantino pictured holding the World Cup trophy while talking to Vladimir Putin at Russia 2018
IMAGO/ULMER Pressebildagentur

Russia will not be allowed to compete for a place at the 2022 World Cup after FIFA increased its sanctions on Monday.

FIFA and UEFA issued a joint statement in which they announced that the Russian national team and all Russia clubs would be banned from international competition until further notice.

It read: “Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which decisions 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.

“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 statement did not directly reference FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who accepted the Russian Order of Friendship from Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2019.

Soccer’s world governing body had published a statement less than 24 hours earlier to announce that Russia could continue to compete but could not host any games, use their national flag or play their national anthem.

FIFA’s initial response also demanded that the Russian national team must be referred to as the “Football Union of Russia” instead of “Russia”.

This response to Putin’s army invading Ukraine was dismissed as tokenistic and unsatisfactory by the majority of the international soccer community.

President of the Polish Football Association Cezary Kulesza tweeted on Sunday: “Today’s FIFA decision is totally unacceptable.

“We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.”

Poland had been due to play Russia on March 24 in a World Cup qualifying semi-final.

The winner of that match was scheduled to play Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place at Qatar 2022.

But like their Polish counterparts, the Swedish and Czech soccer associations both vowed to boycott any games against the Russian national team.

Prior to FIFA’s decision to ban Russia from international football, this unified stance among their potential qualifying opponents presented a possible situation which could have seen the “Football Union of Russia” handed a place at this year’s finals by default.

That would have caused a bigger problem for FIFA because multiple national teams – including England, Denmark, Scotland, Switzerland and Wales – had also made it clear that they would refuse to fulfill any fixtures against Russia.

At club level, the new ruling will directly affect the 2021/22 Europa League, with Spartak Moscow now eliminated ahead of their proposed last 16 encounter with RB Leipzig.

UEFA have confirmed that Leipzig will receive a bye through to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Poland are expected to be given a bye in their World Cup qualifying semi-final, rather than having to play a new opponent.

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