FIFA, UEFA ban Russian teams as IOC issues latest sanctions

FIFA and UEFA, the global and European governing bodies of football, have banned all Russian teams from participating in their competitions, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that sports federations and event organisers do not allow the participation of Russian athletes and officials following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement released yesterday (Monday), FIFA and UEFA announced that all Russian national teams and clubs will be suspended from their respective competitions “until further notice”.

The statement said that football is “fully united and in full solidarity” with the people of Ukraine after the country was invaded by Russia last week. The decision to ban all Russian football teams from competitions means that the men’s national team will not participate in its upcoming World Cup qualifier against Poland, while the women’s national team is also likely to be banned from the UEFA Women’s Euro in England this summer.

Spartak Moscow had been the only Russian team still involved in UEFA club competitions this season. Spartak had been due to face RB Leipzig in the next round of the Europa League but the German side will now progress directly to the quarter-finals.

FIFA had received backlash on Sunday night for not imposing an outright ban on Russia competing in its competitions. FIFA had stripped Russia of the right to play home matches and only permitted the country to compete under the guise of the ‘Football Union of Russia (RFU)’.

The decision drew criticism from Poland, who had been due to face Russia in next month’s World Cup qualifier. Following yesterday’s joint announcement, FIFA did not comment specifically on the qualifier but Poland is likely to receive a bye to the next round, where it will face Sweden or Czech Republic.

UEFA has also ended its partnership with Russian energy giant Gazprom with immediate effect. Last week, Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena was stripped of hosting rights for this year’s UEFA Champions League final, with the Stade de France in Paris to now stage the match instead.

Yesterday’s FIFA and UEFA statement was released after the IOC recommended that international sports federations and sports event organisers do not “invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions”.

The IOC said that while it is “committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination”, the current war in Ukraine puts the Olympic Movement in a “dilemma”.

As a result, the IOC recommended that sports bodies ban Russian and Belarusian athletes or, where this is not possible, do not allow them to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus.

The IOC Executive Board also maintains its urgent recommendation not to organise any sports event in Russia or Belarus.

Elsewhere, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has withdrawn Russia’s hosting rights for the 2023 World Junior Championship. The event had been due to take place from December 26, 2022 to January 5, 2023 but the IIHF will now initiate discussions to find a new host.

The IIHF has also banned all Russian teams and clubs from participation in every age category and in all IIHF competitions or events until further notice.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has also decided to remove this year’s Men’s World Championship from Russia. The event had been due to take place in August and September and the FIVB will now seek an alternative host.

Organisers of this year’s World Games multi-sport event in Birmingham, Alabama have also banned athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus from participating following the IOC’s recommendation.

Image: Ben Sutherland/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

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