The highest governing body of football, FIFA has announced that Russia has been expelled from the Qatar World Cup after being barred from participating in any international competition. Along with this, European football’s governing body, UEFA has also ended its partnership with a Russian energy company, Gazprom.
The men’s team was scheduled to compete in qualifying play-offs for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while the women’s team had qualified for the European Championship in England in July.
The announcement also has an impact on Russian clubs competing in European competitions.
The joint statement from the governing bodies of world and European football read, “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,” read the joint statement from the governing bodies of world and European football.“
The Russian men’s team was scheduled to face Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24 and could have faced Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a spot in the finals in Qatar later this year.
However, their three potential opponents have stated that they will boycott the matches.
Recently, FIFA announced that they have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia. This meant that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of Football Union of Russia, with home games played on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.
However, Polish FA President, Cezary Kulesza dismissed those measures as adding that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off against Russia regardless of the team’s name.
Later, FIFA changed its stance and expelled Russia out of the sport’s pinnacle event.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement added.
“Both presidents (Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin) 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.”
The Russian Football Union condemned the suspension, saying, “It has an obvious discriminatory character and harms a huge number of athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organisations must protect in the first place.”
With other nations also stating that they would not play Russia, FIFA and UEFA were left with a few options. FIFA needed to act quickly because the World Cup play-offs and tournament draw are both scheduled for April 1 in Doha.
Moreover, Russia was scheduled to face the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland in their group at the Women’s Euro in England in July.
“This is a powerful message from the international sporting community that we will not tolerate Putin’s abhorrent assaults on freedom and liberty. Well done FIFA and UEFA.” tweeted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.