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Russia expelled from 2022 World Cup as FIFA and UEFA hand down bans

Russia has been expelled from the 2022 World Cup and its teams suspended from all international football competitions “until further notice” after its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA announced in a joint statement with UEFA on Monday.

The men’s team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July. The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

“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,” football’s global and European governing bodies said.

Russia were due to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and could have gone on to face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals. But their three potential opponents insisted they would boycott the matches.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned. But those measures were dismissed as “totally unacceptable” by Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who added that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off with Russia, “no matter what the name of the team is.”

FIFA changed its approach on Monday, kicking Russia out of the sport’s showpiece tournament. “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.”

Russia were due to play the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland in their group at the women’s Euro. Spartak Moscow had been due to face RB Leipzig of Germany in the Europa League last 16 next month.

The US joined the list of nations refusing to play international football matches against Russia on Monday following the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, the US Soccer Federation said no US teams at any level would take to the field against Russia until “freedom and peace” had returned to Ukraine.

“The US Soccer Federation stands united with the people of Ukraine and is unequivocal in our denunciation of the heinous and inhumane invasion by Russia,” US Soccer said.

“We will neither tarnish our global game, nor dishonor Ukraine, by taking the same field as Russia, no matter the level of competition or circumstance, until freedom and peace have been restored.”

The statement came as football’s world governing body FIFA is poised to suspend Russia from the World Cup and other international competitions over the Ukraine invasion.

Football authorities in Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic have already vowed not to play Russia in their part of the European playoff draw next month.
The English FA said their national teams would not play any games against Russia “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership.”

On Monday the Dutch Football Federation said the Netherlands would not play against Russia or Belarus “until further notice”.

The draw for the World Cup is due to be held in Doha on April 1 with the tournament taking place in November and December.

IOC recommends ban on Russian, Belarusian athletes: The International Olympic Committee on Monday called on sports organisers to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

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