Global football’s governing body FIFA and European governing body UEFA on Monday decided to suspend Russia and club teams from the country until further notice, responding harshly to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision puts the spotlight on Russia’s participation in this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, even as several nations, including Poland, refuse to play Russia in World Cup qualifiers.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all affected people in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said in a joint statement.
“Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and quickly so that football can again be a vector of unity and peace between people.”
UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.
Earlier in the day, FIFA ordered Russia to play matches without its flag and anthem at neutral venues, warning the country could be banned from competitions. However, the global organization has gone ahead and suspended Russia, which hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA AND UEFA ARE ACTING ON THE IOC’S RECOMMENDATION
The decision will be made shortly after International Olympic Committee recommended bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes from major tournaments, despite international sports federations trying to further isolate Russia.
The IOC said there was a need to “protect the integrity of global sporting competitions and the safety of all participants”.
With direct implications for Russia’s participation in March’s World Cup qualifiers, FIFA’s decision could impact the Russian men’s chances of playing the world’s top game in Qatar later this year.
The IOC also reached out directly to President Vladimir Putin, who made the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics a personal project. Putin’s Olympic gold medal, awarded in 2001, has been withdrawn, the IOC said in a statement.
The Olympic body’s appeal also extended to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has encouraged the invasion of Russia by allowing its territory to be used for troop deployment and military attacks.
The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart” but noted the impact of the war on Ukrainian sports and athletes who are now unable to compete outweighed the potential damage done to athletes from Russia and Belarus.