With political tension in Eastern Europe boiling over, the decision has been made to ban athletes and officials from organised competitions
FIFA has taken the decision to suspend Russia from all international football until further notice.
That call has been made on the back of an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine by Russian forces that were sent into combat by president Vladimir Putin.
The International Olympic Committee, which has already banned the ROC from competing under its own flag, has recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be prevented from participating in any organised international competitions.
After holding lengthy discussions with UEFA – European football’s governing body – FIFA announced on Monday that the Russia national team would be banned from competition with immediate effect.
It had already been declared that games involving Russian and Ukrainian sides would be held at neutral venues for the foreseeable future, while the Champions League final has been moved from Saint Petersburg to Paris, but sanctions have now gone a step further.
“Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which 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,” a joint statement issued by FIFA and UEFA on Monday signalled.
“These decisions were adopted today by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. 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.”
Russia has since responded with a statement of their own.
“The Russian Football Union categorically disagrees with the decision of FIFA and UEFA to suspend all Russian teams,” reads the statement. “We reserve the right to challenge the decision of FIFA and UEFA in accordance with international sports law.
“We believe that this decision is contrary to the norms and principles of international competition, as well as the spirit of sports. 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 organizations must protect in the first place.
“Such actions are dividing the world sports community, which has always adhered to the principles of equality, mutual respect and independence from politics.”
Russia are due to face Poland in a World Cup play-off clash on March 24, but that fixture is now under serious threat.
The Polish FA has already stated that it will refuse to honour the scheduling of that game if forced to face the Russians.
A number of other nations, including Sweden and France, have spoken out against the ongoing involvement of a Russian side in any global competition.
The suspension imposed by FIFA covers all of Russia’s national teams – with their women’s team supposed to take part in UEFA’s Euro 2022 event this summer which will be staged in England.
UEFA has also kicked Spartak Moscow out of the Europa League.