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Russian Football Union to appeal against ban imposed by FIFA and UEFA

The Russian Football Union will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ban on its national teams and clubs from international competitions.

FIFA and UEFA, the governing bodies of the world and European games respectively, announced on Monday that Russian teams would be excluded from their events “until further notice” following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

This means that Russia are banned from participating in this month’s men’s World Cup qualifying play-offs and UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 this summer. Spartak Moscow have also been removed from the Europa League.

Ukraine, meanwhile, have requested the postponement of their World Cup play-off semi-final away to Scotland on March 24.

The RFU announced on Thursday it will challenge this ruling in a single lawsuit against FIFA and UEFA.

A statement read: “The RFU will demand the restoration of all men’s and women’s national teams of Russia in all types of football in the tournaments in which they took part (including in the qualifying round of the World Cup in Qatar), as well as compensation for damage.

“In order to ensure the possibility of the participation of Russian teams in the next scheduled matches, the RFU will insist on an expedited procedure for considering the case.

“If FIFA and UEFA refuse such a procedure, a requirement will be put forward for the introduction of interim measures in the form of suspension of FIFA and UEFA decisions, as well as competitions in which Russian teams were supposed to participate.

Russia were due to play in World Cup qualifiers this month
Russia were due to play in World Cup qualifiers this month (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“The RFU believes that FIFA and UEFA did not have a legal basis when deciding on the removal of Russian teams. It violated the fundamental rights of the RFU as a member of FIFA and UEFA, including the right to take part in competitions.

“In addition, the decision to withdraw the national team from qualification for the 2022 World Cup was made under pressure from direct rivals in the play-offs, which violated the principle of sports and the rules of fair play.

“The Russian Football Union was also not given the right to present its position, which violated the fundamental right to defence. In addition, when making decisions, FIFA and UEFA did not take into account other possible options for action, except for the complete exclusion of participants from the competition from Russia.”

Poland, Russia’s first opponents in the World Cup qualifying play-offs, along with Sweden and the Czech Republic, had all refused to play against Russia. A number of other countries had also said they would boycott matches against Russia.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says Russia's ban will stand until further notice
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says Russia’s ban will stand until further notice (Nick Potts/PA)

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has refused to be drawn on when, or under what circumstances, the ban imposed by his organisation might end.

Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, the 54-year-old: said: “It is impossible to say.

“At this moment our decision was the only right decision, it was a unanimous decision from the executive committee of UEFA. What will happen tomorrow, nobody knows.

“I cannot give you an answer to this question. For now it stays like that and we are waiting for peace to come. Football will be the least important thing then.”

Ukraine are due to play Scotland at Hampden Park in three weeks’ time, but with football suspended in the country amid the invasion, they have now asked FIFA for that fixture to be postponed.

That request could also have implications for the play-off semi-final between Wales and Austria – the winner of which would advance to face Scotland or Ukraine.

Ceferin revealed that he has personally been involved in efforts, along with other football associations, to get players out of Ukraine without government assistance.

He said: “I was on the phone for 48 hours with players and coaches, foreign players and coaches, to help them to leave Ukraine during the war.

“We spoke 24 hours a day and I asked all the governments for help, but nobody could help because nobody could guarantee safety.

“Everyone said they should stay there because that’s the safest thing to do, and I in a way understand the governments because it is hard for them to take the responsibility, but we had to do it, together with the football association of Ukraine and all the neighbouring football associations.

“This is bigger than football and I am proud of the football family that the football family stood together and we helped as much as we could.

“We are all just hoping and praying the war stops. This madness should stop as soon as possible.”

UEFA also announced on Thursday that the Belarus national team and the country’s clubs must play home matches at neutral venues, and behind closed doors, in its competitions.

Meanwhile, world players union FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum – which represents competitions around the globe – has called on FIFA to allow players based at Russian clubs to unilaterally terminate their contracts.

The organisations believe that players plying their trade in Russia should be allowed to leave their clubs should they wish to without facing consequences.

They said in a statement: “These foreign players may rightfully consider that they are not willing to represent any longer a Russian team and should be able to immediately terminate their contract with their employer without facing any sanction whatsoever from international bodies.”

The statement added that these players should be able to sign for alternative clubs outside regular registration periods.

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