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Ukraine Crisis: FIFA, UEFA Ban Russian Clubs, National Football Teams

Ukraine Crisis: FIFA, UEFA Ban Russian Clubs, National Football Teams

FIFA had earlier faced criticism over its initial decision to allow Russia to continue to compete in the World Cup 2022 play-offs.

Football became the first sport to act in the wake of Russia's Ukraine invasion.
Football became the first sport to act in the wake of Russia's Ukraine invasion. File Photo

In a sweeping move, FIFA and UEFA on Monday suspended Russia from all competitions. The move came hours after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged international sports bodies to exclude Russia. (More Football News)

"Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine," FIFA and UEFA said in a joint statement. "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."

"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. 
 
"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," the statement explained.

The development means that Russian national teams and clubs will not be allowed to compete in all international football tournaments. The IOC has already withdrawn the Olympic Order, its highest award, it gave Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001, and other Russian officials since.

The IOC's decision had effectively opened the way for FIFA, the governing body of football, to exclude Russia from a World Cup qualifying playoff match on March 24. Poland has refused to play the scheduled game against Russia.

Russian women's team was also supposed to compete in the UEFA European Championship.

UEFA is the sport's governing body in Europe. And it has confirmed that its sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant, Gazprom is over. In a tweet, UEFA wrote: "UEFA has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions.

"The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the UEFA Champions League, UEFA national team competitions and UEFA EURO 2024."

Russia had already lost the UEFA Champions League final hosting rights. The May 28 final was originally scheduled to be played at Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. But it will now be hosted at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, France.

Spartak Moscow, the only remaining Russian outfit in the Europa League, have also been kicked out of UEFA's second-tier club competition. They had won Group C, ahead of Napoli, Leicester City and Legia Warsaw.

Spartak were supposed to play RB Leipzig of Germany in the Round of 16.

Russia on Thursday (February 24) launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea. This is the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in a pre-dawn televised address that he had approved a “special military operation”.

It's worth noting that FIFA itself had faced criticism over its initial decision to allow Russia to continue to compete in the World Cup 2022 play-offs. On Sunday, it had only ordered Russia to play at neutral venues under the name of its federation (the Football Union of Russia) without the country's flag and anthem.

In a brutal rebuke, Poland said it would still refuse to play Russia. The play-off was scheduled for March 24.

"Today’s FIFA decision is totally unacceptable,” Polish football federation president Cezary Kulesza wrote in a series of tweets. “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.”

Kulesza wrote further: "Due to the disgraceful decision of FIFA," the Polish FA sent a letter today to all football federations in Europe. And "we presented our position and encouraged them to stand by our side. Because only united we will be strong. No indulgence for Russian aggression against Ukraine".

The winners of the Russia-Poland playoff were due to host Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to decide who qualify for the winter World Cup in Qatar.

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