FIFA Suspends Russia From All Competitions as IOC Urges Ban for All Athletes

FIFA Suspends Russia From All Competitions as IOC Urges Ban for All Athletes
The Russian national flag (R) flies after it is hoisted next to the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 23, 2014. (Matthias Schrader/AP Photo)

FIFA and UEFA jointly decided on Feb. 28 that all Russian teams, including the national team, will be banned from qualifying for all international tournaments following the attack on Ukraine.

“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 announcement comes a day after the sports governing body enforced a number of restrictions against Russia, but it didn’t immediately expel the country from international tournaments.

Prior to FIFA banning Russia, it said the country’s national team will no longer be allowed to compete under the name “Russia,” and must play under the name of its federation, the “Football Union of Russia (RFU).”

Under the additional restrictions, the national team was also banned from hosting “home” matches and all international games had to be played on neutral territory, without Russian spectators being allowed in the venue. In addition, “no flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where teams from the Football Union of Russia participate,” FIFA said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged sports bodies on Monday to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including the soccer World Cup.

NTD Photo
Qatar inaugurates the fourth FIFA World Cup 2022 venue, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Dec. 18, 2020. (Qatar 2022/Supreme Committee via Getty Images)

FIFA and UEFA quickly followed the IOC’s announcement and expelled Russia from all competitions ahead of the country’s World Cup qualifying match against Poland scheduled for March 24. Poland had already stated it refused to play the scheduled game against Russia. The World Cup is scheduled to begin on Nov. 21 in Qatar.

“We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is,” Polish football federation President Cezary Kulesza said on Feb. 27, shortly after FIFA announced a number of restrictions against the country.

The IOC said its decision to further isolate Russia from international sports was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

Last week, Formula One also canceled this season’s Grand Prix in Russia.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland leads at the start of the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 10, 2021. (Francisco Seco/AP Photo)

“The teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances,” Formula One said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Albania said on Feb. 27 it would not play against Russia in any kind of sports. Russia and Albania are scheduled to meet twice in June in the UEFA Nations League soccer tournament.

In hockey, the sport’s governing body has also come under pressure from Finland and Switzerland to ban Russia and Belarus, both due to play at the world championships in May in Helsinki and Tampere.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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