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Ukraine crisis penalty for Russia’s football teams; expelled from international tourneys

FIFA and UEFA stated that Russia’s football team has been expelled from competing in World Cup matches

With the military operation in Ukraine now on, aggressor Russia’s football teams have been expelled from the international tournaments including the World Cup. The decision by FIFA and UEFA follows the suspension of the Russian team from all international competitions until further notice.

A joint statement issued by football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA, stated that the team has been expelled from competing in World Cup matches. Going by the joint statement, FIFA and UEFA have together “decided 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.”

Besides this, the European football body also has declared an end to its partnership with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Russia’s football teams in a spot

The Russian men’s team had been gearing up to play in the qualifying play-offs in March, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar which has been scheduled to get underway later this year. As per the schedule, the Russian men’s team were expected to play against Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24. Post that match, they were to face either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals in Qatar. But that is not to be as their three potential opponents were so insistent that they would boycott the matches if Russia is allowed to compete.

Also, the Russian women’s team had qualified for the European Championship in England, scheduled for July this year. With the order to expel the teams coming about, the Russian footballers have been left in a quandary.

Besides the World Cup involvement, the ban has also impacted Russian clubs who have been keen on taking part in European competitions this year.

Opposition mounts against Russia

A day earlier the situation was different. FIFA had reportedly decided that the Russian teams can play under the Football Union of Russia tag and the football governing body had said that it was not averse to Russian footballers playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors. It had also wanted that the Russian flag and anthem banned for these matches.

However, Poland’s Football Association president Cezary Kulesza was in total disagreement to such a move, and rejected it saying that Poland would not play its World Cup play-off with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is. This forced FIFA to alter the decision it had taken and expelled Russia out of the tournament.

Meanwhile, the Russian Football Union has taken offence to the decision, and dismissed it as discriminatory. Stating that the decision to expel the Russian teams wreaks of a discriminatory character, he said that it comes a s hurtful to athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and millions of Russian and foreign fans.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »
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