As the world of sport unites in taking action against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine, FIFA has finally dished out the most serious of sanctions available to it.
They have announced that Russia will be suspended from all competitive football for the foreseeable future, with the insinuation that they will be kicked out of the World Cup play-offs which were due to take place in March – their scheduled opponents, Poland, are likely to be handed a bye.
UEFA are also on board with the sanctioning, and have confirmed that Russia’s women’s team will be barred from competing in this summer’s European Championships in England, while Spartak Moscow will be kicked out of the Europa League at the expense of RB Leipzig.
Releasing a joint statement, the two governing bodies said:
“FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in competitions until further notice.
“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.”
Sport Unites Against Russia
UEFA, who aren’t always quick to act on such moral dilemmas, have also gone above the parapet by ending their sponsorship deal with Russian state-controlled energy firm Gazprom.
The company have paid around £33 million per season since 2012 to have their branding aligned with the Champions League, and so UEFA cutting ties with them will hit Gazprom hard from a commercial perspective.
The governing body has also stripped St Petersburg of hosting the Champions League later in 2022, with the game originally scheduled for the Gazprom Arena in May.
“UEFA has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions,” a statement read.
“The decision is effective immediately, and covers all existing agreements including the UEFA Champions League, UEFA national team competitions and UEFA EURO 2024.”
Elsewhere, the Lokomotiv Moscow manager Markus Gisdol has sensationally quit from his role in protest at the conflict.
The German told his country’s newspaper Bild that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was ‘against his values’, and that he was left with no option but to resign.
“Being a football coach is the best job in the world, but I can’t do that job in a country whose leader has invaded another country in the middle of Europe,” he said.
“That does not go together with my values. I can’t stand at the training ground in Moscow and coach the players, ask them to be professional when a few kilometres away there are orders given that brings suffering to the people of a whole country. This is my personal decision and I am absolutely convinced it is the right one.”
Meanwhile, World Rugby have also moved to sanction both Russia and Belarus, who many political commentators believe have facilitated the conflict.
A statement from the governing body confirmed that, after consulting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), they have suspended Russia and Belarus from all forms of rugby, with the membership of the Rugby Union of Russia also temporarily annulled.
“The global rugby family is united in standing in solidarity with everyone affected by these deeply disturbing events, and joins the global community in calling for the restoration of peace.”