FIFA suspends Russia World Cup ‘legacy’ payments – official
FIFA has halted payments to Russia which are due as part of the ‘Legacy’ program from the 2018 World Cup, according to Russian football official Maxim Mitrofanov.
“Funds from the FIFA Legacy [program] can be spent on the system of youth competition. FIFA Legacy funds of 30% have already been received,” said Mitrofanov, who is the development director of the Russian Football Union (RFU).
“Now FIFA has suspended payments, but it has not canceled them. Accordingly, we hope, based on FIFA’s position, that they will not be canceled.
“In any case, we are looking for other sources of funding to understand how we will finance this system after 2025,” added Mitrofanov.
“Our task is to work out within five years an effective system for youth football [in Russia].”
FIFA has touted its ‘Legacy’ program as an important part of the lasting benefits for World Cup host nations, with a particular emphasis on youth football.
Russia is estimated to have spent at least $10 billion on hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was widely hailed as among the best-ever editions of the tournament.
Russia welcomed almost 3 million foreign visitors for the event, according to official statistics, for matches staged at 12 venues across 11 host cities.
After Moscow launched its military offensive in Ukraine at the end of February, FIFA was among the global sporting federations to issue a ban on Russian and Belarusian teams from its competitions.
European counterpart UEFA did the same, also stripping Russia of the 2022 Champions League final which was due to be held in St. Petersburg.
Russian football official Alexey Sorokin – part of the local organizing committee – has said discussions are ongoing with UEFA for compensation.
Russia is also appealing its FIFA and UEFA bans with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
Those efforts have thus far been unsuccessful, and the Russian men’s national team was barred from its World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal against Poland in March.
A final CAS verdict has yet to be issued, however, and is expected in May according to the RFU.
There were fears last month that Russia could even have its membership with FIFA suspended at a vote at the organization’s Congress in Doha, although ultimately the issue was not discussed.
Speaking at the event in the Qatari capital, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he still had fond memories of the 2018 World Cup, and that it was “not an easy decision” to suspend Russian teams.
“But we had to take the decision, and now we have to look forward and hope that the hostilities can stop and we can bring a little bit of peace,” said Infantino of the conflict in Ukraine.