March 31, 2022
By Simon Evans
DOHA (Reuters) – Russian football authorities are seriously betting on organizing the European Championship in 2028 or 2032 despite their teams currently being suspended from competition, a senior official said on Thursday.
Alexey Sorokin, who was CEO of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and a former member of FIFA’s governing board, said his country was all set to host a tournament.
Russian clubs and national teams have been suspended from FIFA and UEFA competitions due to the Ukrainian war, which denied Russia the chance to qualify for this year’s World Cup finals through the European playoffs.
The Russian Football Union has appealed the suspension to the Lausanne Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But Sorokin said the situation does not mean Russia cannot offer to hold future tournaments.
“I am serious that Russia will be able to host world-class events and is technically capable of doing so right now,” he told reporters on the sidelines of FIFA’s annual congress in Qatar on Thursday.
“We have everything we need, we have experience, we have sports infrastructure, we have our passion for sports, in particular for football. That’s what I think we have a lot of football fans in our country, “he said.
UEFA, the governing body of European football, has opened the bidding process for both Euro 2028 and Euro 2032, and Russia has yet to indicate on which edition it will focus its bid.
The nations of the UK and Ireland have made a declaration of interest to host the 2028 competition along with Turkey and Russia.
Italy, along with Turkey and Russia, have said they intend to bid for 2032.
Sorokin told reporters that there was “a long time until 2032” missing, indicating that an offer for that tournament was more likely, but said there was still time to select which year to focus on.
“Countries have presented the (offers) and then we will have more clarity on who focuses more on which year. The process will bring more clarity along the way, that’s what I think,” he said.
Ukrainian football officials were unable to attend the FIFA congress, but delegates were shown an emotional video message from Ukrainian FA President Andriy Pavelko, which was filmed with a bulletproof jacket.
“I’ve known him for a long time, we’re sorry he has these emotions,” Sorokin said.
“But it is difficult to understand. It must be difficult for them, but again I am here not to discuss politics or military activities or anything, I am here for the FIFA Congress,” he added.
Ukraine was represented by its ambassador to Qatar, Andrii Kuzmenko, who reiterated a call for Russia’s football authorities to be withdrawn from FIFA.
But Sorokin said football bodies should not be held responsible and expressed disappointment that this year’s Champions League final venue had been removed from St Petersburg.
“What has Russian football got to do with all this, what has Russia done wrong? I can’t find any clause in the FIFA statutes that has been violated by Russian football. What is happening is received with disappointment by Russian fans, because an event has been taken away from them. European, ”he said.
(Additional report by Iain Axon; Edited by Toby Davis)
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