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FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia from international football

XINEBRA – The Russian national teams were suspended from international football after the invasion of Ukraine by the country.

The decision came on Monday from FIFA and UEFA, who said Russia’s national teams and clubs had been suspended “until further notice”.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and quickly so that football can once again be a vector of unity and peace among the people.”

UEFA has also ended its sponsorship of Russian energy giant Gazprom.

THIS IS A NEWS UPDATE. The above AP story follows below.

International sports agencies moved on Monday to further isolate Russia from its invasion of Ukraine and have brought Moscow closer to becoming an outcast on the pitch.

The International Olympic Committee has urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including the football World Cup.

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The IOC said it was necessary to “protect the integrity of world sports competitions and for the safety of all participants.”

The decision paved the way for FIFA, the governing body of football, to exclude Russia from the World Cup before the qualifying playoffs on March 24. Poland has already refused to play the scheduled match against Russia.

It was unclear how the IOC’s request would affect Russian NHL hockey players and tennis players, including top-ranked Daniil Medvedev, in Grand Slam, ATP and WTA tournaments outside the authority of the International Tennis Federation.

FIFA was in talks with UEFA about details of the suspension of Russia’s national teams and clubs, people familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions before FIFA and UEFA officials could ratify the ban on Monday.

Announcement

With a direct impact for Russia to play in the World Cup qualifiers next month, FIFA said on Sunday that it was talking to the IOC about the country’s exclusion from competitions “if the situation did not improve quickly”.

The IOC also went directly to President Vladimir Putin, who turned the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics into a personal project. Putin’s Olympic Gold Order, which was awarded in 2001, has been withdrawn, the IOC said in a statement.

The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which favored the invasion of Russia by allowing its territory to be used for stationing troops and launching military attacks.

The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart”, but noted that the impact of the war on Ukrainian sports and athletes who are now unable to compete has outweighed the possible damage done to athletes from Russia and Belarus.

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It was not a total ban by the IOC, nor did it specifically suspend the national Olympic committees of Russia and Belarus.

When exclusion “was not possible in a short time for organizational or legal reasons”, then the Russian and Belarusian teams should compete as neutral athletes without a national flag, anthem or symbols, even at the upcoming Beijing Paralympic Winter Games.

Russia’s Olympic committee leader Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement that “there is only one comment to make: we strongly disagree,” adding that it would help national federations challenge “discriminatory sentences.”

Sports bodies across Europe have already moved against Russia on Monday by refusing to receive or play against teams from the country.

Finland wants Russian hockey team to be expelled from the men’s world championships in May, the Swiss football federation said its women’s team will not play against Russia in July at the European Championships and German football club Schalke has said it has decided to put end to its long date. partnership with Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

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Over the weekend, FIFA refused to ban Russia from the World Cup. Instead, he said the national team will have to compete under the name of its federation, the “Football Union of Russia” as punishment. In addition to Poland, potential opponents Sweden and the Czech Republic have said they would refuse to go on the field against Russia.

“The Swedish Football Federation is disappointed with FIFA’s decision, but is determined to continue working with other federations to cancel Russia’s matches in the next World Cup qualifiers,” the agency said on Monday, citing the illegal and profound invasion. Ukraine’s injustice. “

The World Cup is scheduled to start on November 21 in Qatar.

In European club football, Russian team Spartak Moscow is still scheduled to play next week in the Europa League against German club Leipzig. UEFA allowed Spartak to take their place in the draw for the round of 16 on Friday, a day after Putin ordered the invasion to begin.

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UEFA has called a meeting of its executive committee for later Monday and is expected to exclude Russian teams from their competitions based on the IOC announcement. The FIFA Bureau would only require the six presidents of the regional confederations to confirm the decision in writing.

The moves are not unprecedented. Following UN sanctions in 1992, FIFA and UEFA expelled Yugoslavia from their competitions when war broke out in the Balkans.

In addition to Schalke’s efforts to leave Gazprom as a partner, UEFA is also expected to see if it can cancel the sponsorship deals with the company. Gazprom sponsors both the Champions League and the European Championship.

FIFA tried to compromise on Sunday by suggesting that Russia play in neutral places without its flag and anthem and under the name of the Russian Football Union.

That aligns with the sanctions imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in December 2020 to punish Russia for state-backed doping and concealment of traps, and applied at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and this year’s Winter Games in Beijing.

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If Russia play Poland as expected on March 24 and win, the team will face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.

Polish football federation president Cezary Kulesza said on Sunday that it was “totally unacceptable” that FIFA had not immediately expelled Russia from World Cup qualifiers and said Poland was “not interested in participating in this appearances “.

Another future rival, Albania, also said on Sunday that he would not play against Russia in any sport. Russia and Albania are scheduled to meet twice in June in the UEFA Nations League football tournament.

In hockey, the governing body of the sport has come under pressure from Finland and Switzerland to ban Russia and Belarus, both for competing in the May World Championships in Helsinki and Tampere.

The president of the Finnish Hockey Association, Harri Nummela, said in a statement on Monday that he had held talks with the Zurich-based IIHF to exclude the two countries from the sport internationally. ___

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AP Global Soccer writer Rob Harris in London contributed.

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FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia from international football

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