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29 Mar, 2022 10:00

UEFA ‘supports tough option’ on Russia’s FIFA future – report

FIFA could make an announcement at its Congress on Thursday
UEFA ‘supports tough option’ on Russia’s FIFA future – report

UEFA and the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, would support a "tough option" when the FIFA Council meets to discuss expelling the Russian Football Union (RFU) on Wednesday, according to a report claiming that FIFA President Gianni Infantino is "inclined" to suspend Russia's membership in a new sanction following the start of the attack on Ukraine.

The council's official agenda for the meeting, held a day before FIFA's 72nd Congress in Doha, the capital of World Cup host nation Qatar, lists the “suspension or expulsion of a member association” among the items for discussion.

Infantino and the Asian and African Football Confederations are said to favor suspending Russia's membership, Match TV has said, citing unnamed experts as suggesting that UEFA and CONMEBOL could back a full expulsion.

Russian and Belarusian teams were suspended from all FIFA and UEFA competitions in February following the launch of the military offensive in Ukraine.

The 2018 World Cup hosts did not host Poland in their scheduled playoff semifinal on March 24, when victory would have sent them through to a final against Sweden in Moscow five days later.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport decision has ruled that the suspension will not be overturned, although Russia manager Valeri Karpin remains hopeful that his side's qualification bid will be allowed to resume when the court decides on the legal basis of the suspension.

The RFU will reportedly be barred from international matches and overseeing transfers under the restrictions warranted by either potential outcome from the council meeting.

Despite saying that Infantino would not sway towards expulsion, the outlet added that the President's stance could be influenced by the criminal investigation that he has faced in Switzerland since July 2020.

Infantino is the subject of a criminal complaint over three undocumented meetings he allegedly held with Switzerland’s former attorney general, Michael Lauber, in 2016 and 2017. Lauber is also under investigation.

The FIFA chief is reportedly suspected of seeking information on investigations about FIFA and former executives at the organizations, potentially with the intention of influencing the course of those cases.

Match said that a "softer" decision on Russia's membership could increase Infantino's risk of receiving tougher measures from the Swiss justice system because the state has an "anti-Russian political agenda."

No Russian representatives are said to have been accredited for the Congress. Alexei Sorokin, the former general director of the organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup, and a group of Russian specialists related to that tournament are reportedly in Qatar.

Local dignitary Alexey Sorokin told the outlet on Monday that he saw no grounds for a temporary or permanent removal of Russia's FIFA membership.

Sorokin said that the RFU needed to communicate with international federations and build relationships, adding that he expected UEFA to compensate Russia over the relocation of the Champions League final in May from St. Petersburg to Paris.

Karpin spoke on Monday of his hope that Russia would return to the international football arena soon.

"The situation is changing every day," the former international said of the playoffs, in which Poland – who were given a bye – will play Sweden on Tuesday in the final that could have featured Russia.