Fifa and Uefa have agreed to bar Russia from competing in the 2022 World Cup due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Following days of dithering and procrastination, the international game finally stood up for Ukraine’s people by implementing sports sanctions against Russia and Belarus.
President Gianni Infantino ultimately responded less than 24 hours after Fifa tried to quell mounting clamor for a global ban by ordering Russia’s play-off against Poland to be held behind closed doors in a neutral country.
The international organization declared in a joint statement: “FIFA and UEFA have agreed that until further notice, all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, would be barred from competing in FIFA and UEFA events.
“Football is completely united here, and we stand in complete sympathy with all those who have been affected in Ukraine.
“Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will dramatically and quickly improve, allowing football to once again serve as a vehicle for people-to-people solidarity and peace.
“The IOC ultimately got off the fence and demanded action, prompting the swift U-turn.
“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to continue to compete in sporting competitions, many competitors from Ukraine are unable to do so because to the attack on their country,” Olympic officials noted.”
“This is a conundrum that can’t be solved.””
“The IOC recommends that International Sports Federations and event organizers do not accept or allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to participate in international competitions,” the Lausanne-based organisation added, with a heavy heart.
“Federations should do everything possible to ensure that no Russian or Belarussian athlete or sports official is allowed to compete in the name of Russia or Belarus.”
And it forced Fifa President Gianni Infantino’s hand after Uefa suggested it was planning to ban Russia out of the Women’s Euros this summer, despite pressure from the FA and Switzerland.
Fifa will now select who will replace Russia in the play-offs, with Slovakia – who finished third in their qualifying group – or Hungary likely to do so.
Spartak Moscow was also barred from the Europa League’s last 16 and Gazprom’s £35 million per year Champions League sponsorship deal was terminated immediately.
After Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic said that they would boycott a Global Cup play-off match with Russia, even if it was held in a neutral nation and behind closed doors, as suggested by world chiefs, the FA has made its position clear to both Fifa and Uefa.
“I am inclined towards barring Russia from the next World Cup,” said veteran French FA President Noel Le Graet, echoing the rising outcry. This is my initial reaction.
“I feel that sport exists to bring people together and reduce tensions.
“However, this has gone much too far, and the world of sport, particularly football, cannot remain impartial.” “I will not argue against Russia’s exclusion.”
“Russian or Belarusian nationals, whether as individuals or as teams, should only be allowed as neutral athletes or neutral teams,” the IOC noted. There should be no national emblems, colors, flags, or anthems visible.”
Infantino was able to stand up to Vladimir Putin and make the crucial decision as a result of their move.