FIFA changes course, suspending Russian teams from international competitions

(Nikolay Alexandrov/AP)

FIFA, world football's governing body, has announced that they have suspended all Russian teams from international competition in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, pivoting away from its initial stance which was widely criticized as being too lenient.

"Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which decisions 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," FIFA said in a statement.

The suspension affects both the men's and women's teams, which could affect the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2022 women's tournament in England.

Russia was initially scheduled to host Poland in a World Cup playoff semifinal on March 24 in Moscow, with the winner welcoming Sweden or the Czech Republic five days later. The winner of that matchup would advance to the World Cup. All three countries have refused to play against Russia.

On Sunday, FIFA ordered that the country play without its flag and anthem at neutral venues under the name of its federation — the Football Union of Russia. The decision drew swift criticism from European nations.

The Russian women's national team qualified for the European Championship and was set to open their tournament on July 9 versus Switzerland.

On the fifth day of Russia's invasion, here's how the sports world responded
Since Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 23, sports federations, as well as athletes, have weighed in on the conflict. Here's what you need to know about what was said and enacted on Monday, the fifth day of the war.

• FIFA and EUFA announced that they have suspended all Russian teams from international competition in response to the invasion, changing course after their initial sanctions against the country and its allies were widely chastised as being insufficient.

• Canada Soccer said it would not compete at any level against Russia "until sovereignty and territorial integrity are restored."

• The International Olympic Committee "strongly urged" sports federations and event organizers to not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions, in a decisive recommendation that comes as the 2022 Paralympic Games are set to begin.

• Wayne Gretzky lamented the human toll of the ongoing crisis while zeroing in on what Edmonton, the host of the upcoming world juniors tournament, can do to make a difference.

German club Schalke also officially dropped Gazprom – a Russian majority state-owned multinational energy corporation – as their official sponsor. They had removed Gazprom's logo from the club's shirts for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Karlsruher in the second-tier 2. Bundesliga.

Gazprom is also a primary UEFA sponsor, though the European governing body is set to drop the corporation as well. Russian Football Union president Aleksandr Dyukov, who is also chief executive of a subsidiary of Gazprom, sits on the UEFA executive committee.

"Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine," FIFA said. "Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.