Fifa, Uefa and IOC heed calls to ban Russia from international sport
Russia faces an indefinite period of exile from international sport after major bodies including the International Olympic Committee, Fifa and Uefa bowed to calls to ban the country.
The IOC said Russian teams and athletes should not be allowed to compete in international competitions, even under a neutral flag, as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
It also recommended the same sanctions be applied to Belarus, which has aided Russian military operations against Ukraine.
Football’s world governing body Fifa followed suit by banning all Russian representative teams, in a move that appears to end the country’s chances of playing at the men’s World Cup in Qatar this year.
Its European counterpart Uefa also expelled Russian teams from its competitions, which include this summer’s Women’s European Championship in England as well as club competitions such as the Champions League.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “puts the Olympic movement in a dilemma,” the IOC said.
“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.
“This is a dilemma which cannot be solved. The IOC executive board has therefore today carefully considered the situation and, with a heavy heart, issued the following resolution:
“In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that international sports federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”
Where it is “not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons” to ban Russian and Belarusian competitors, sports bodies should only be accepted under a neutral banner, the IOC added.
That condition may apply to Russian and Belarusian athletes due to take part in the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, which officially begin on Friday.
Fifa’s action came after it was widely criticised for failing to ban Russia on Sunday, instead ordering that its national teams play under a neutral banner.
It means Russia will not now be part of this month’s play-offs for remaining places at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“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,” the two governing bodies said in a joint statement.
Poland, who they were scheduled to play, had said they would refuse to face Russia and called Fifa’s initial sanctions “totally unacceptable”.
“We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances,” said Cezary Kulesza, president of Poland’s football association. “Our stance remains intact: Polish national team will not play with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.”
England’s Football Association declared on Sunday that they would not agree to any fixtures against Russian representative teams for the foreseeable future.
The FA also lobbied Fifa and Uefa in an attempt to have Russia removed from the Women’s Euros, which it is due to host this summer.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the chorus of calls for Fifa to ban Russia in a statement issued by No10 earlier on Monday.
“The Prime Minister wants Fifa to take the strongest possible action on this and doesn’t think their current measures go far enough,” a spokesperson said. “You can expect our position to be very clear on this issue.”