UEFA has announced a slew of new sanctions against Russia which will impact football in the country for the 2022/23 season
Russia has been hit with a host of new sanctions by European football governing body UEFA which will isolate the country from continental football in the 2022/23 season.
The measures, which were
announced on Monday, follow the bans on all Russian teams imposed by UEFA and FIFA at the end of February, when the conflict with Ukraine was in its initial stages.
This time, the anti-Russian rulings from UEFA’s Executive Committee have a definite timeframe and will cover the whole of next season across a variety of competitions – from the Champions League to futsal.
We look at the key details of the fresh bans levied on Russia, what they mean for football in the county, and how Russian figures have reacted.
What are the new UEFA sanctions against Russia?
The new UEFA sanctions against Russia imposed specific punishments for the 2022/23 season and covered a variety of UEFA competitions.
At international level, the Russian men’s team will not compete in the UEFA Nations League, where they had been due to play Iceland, Israel and Albania in League B, Group 2, in a campaign due to get underway in June. Instead, Russia will automatically finish bottom of the group and be relegated to League C for the next Nations League cycle (should the ban be lifted by then).
Russia’s women’s team have officially been removed from the Euro 2022 tournament in England this summer, and will be replaced by Portugal – the nation they had beaten in the playoffs to reach the competition.
Moreover, the Russian women’s team will not be able to continue their qualifying campaign for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – effectively barring them from the tournament set to be held in Australia and New Zealand next year.
At youth level, Russia will not be allowed to continue their qualifying campaign for the men’s 2023 European Under-21 Championship. They will also be barred from men’s and women’s European competitions at Under-17 and Under-19 levels.
At club level, Russian teams have been banned next season from major UEFA competitions the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Europa Conference League.
This season, Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg had appeared in the Champions League group stages, while Spartak Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow had competed in the Europa League group stages (the former reached the last 16 before being expelled from the competition).
Russian clubs have also been banned from the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season, while Russian youngsters are barred from the UEFA Youth League.
Which other competitions are covered by the UEFA bans?
It’s not just traditional football tournaments where Russia has been excluded. UEFA’s fresh sanctions cover futsal – where Russia has been banned from European qualifying for the 2024 men’s World Cup, as well as women’s European tournaments.
Russian clubs will be barred from the men’s 2022/23 UEFA Futsal Champions League. Russia has also been removed from the 2022/23 UEFA Regions’ Cup, which is a football competition for amateur teams across the continent. What do the bans mean for other countries?
It would be inaccurate to describe Russia currently as a European footballing powerhouse, although the removal of its national teams and clubs nonetheless reduces the level of competition for rivals.
Russia’s planned opponents in the UEFA Nations League – Iceland, Albania and Israel – will play fewer games in a group that Russia would have been expected to win to earn promotion back to League A of the competition.
The UEFA Champions League group stage spot which automatically goes to Russia’s title winners – which this season is Zenit again –
will now be handed to the Scottish champions, which looks like being Celtic.
Russia’s ‘coefficient’ points in the UEFA club rankings will be pegged at a minimal level, meaning Russia will inevitably drop down the European table. That will have a knock-on effect for the number of future places allocated to Russian teams in UEFA competitions. (
Sports.ru predicts that Russia could drop from 10th to as low as 19th in the table – below the likes of Norway, Switzerland and Denmark.)
In some UEFA competitions, Russia is considered a genuine powerhouse. The team won silver at the recent
men’s European Futsal Championship, but will be barred from tournaments next season. “When leading teams like Portugal and Spain lose such a strong competitor, European futsal will only lose from this,” said Russian Futsal Union president Emil Aliev. What about the Russian bid for the European Championship?
The Russian Football Union (RFU) surprised many
when it announced in March that it was launching a bid to host the men’s Euros in 2028 or 2032. The RFU insisted that it had every right to do so, with football official Rustem Saymanov stating “ we are open and ready, we should not be closed to UEFA and FIF A… There’s a lot of time, the situation will change, we will study everything.”
However, UEFA announced on Monday that the Russian bids for both tournaments had been dismissed, citing regulations which state that
“each bidder shall ensure that it does not act in a manner that could bring UEFA, the UEFA final or UEFA final phase, any other bidder (or any employee, officer or representative of any of the foregoing), the bidding procedure or European football into disrepute.”
UEFA also noted the
“uncertainty” over when its ban on Russian teams would be lifted. How has Russia reacted to the new UEFA bans?
Leading up to Monday’s announcement,
reports in the Russian media had stated that fresh sanctions were on the cards, meaning the news was not entirely unexpected. Nonetheless, some had held out hope of brighter developments based on the words of UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who recently said that the organization should show that sanctions are not directed against Russian athletes or the Russian people.
The RFU reacted to Monday’s announcement by expressing its
“categorical disagreement” with UEFA’s actions. “The RFU will continue to protect its interests within the framework of cases already pending in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, and reserves the right to submit new applications,” read a statement.
Russian men’s national team manager Valeri Karpin said the developments were unsurprising.
“The lawlessness with the removal of Russian football from competitions that began a few months ago continues. At the same time, I still hope that the RFU will be able to defend the right of our players to participate in international tournaments in the relevant courts,” Karpin told Championat.
Elsewhere, the discussion was resurrected as to whether Russia would be better off turning its back on UEFA and seeking entry into the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Former Lokomotiv Moscow president
Ilya Gerkus said an eastern pivot would contain numerous benefits, although the likes of honorary RFU president Vyacheslav Koloskov said it would signal the “death” of Russian football.
Duma Sports Committee member
Dmitry Svishchev said: “Our football authorities should think about the development of competitions and infrastructure within the country, as well as the possibility of moving to the Asian confederation.”
Former Russia international
Denis Glushakov said the country should sit out its ban and try to find the positives, such as reverting to a spring-autumn timetable for the domestic leagues and expanding the Russian Premier League to 18 teams. The midfielder suggested young Russian talent would have a chance to develop in the absence of foreign players, dozens of whom have quit Russian clubs in recent weeks. Does Russia have any hope of overturning the UEFA bans?
As the RFU noted in its statement, Russia is fighting its FIFA and UEFA suspensions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. The court has thus far ruled in UEFA and FIFA’s favor, leading to Russia being deprived of the chance to compete in the
European qualifying playoffs for the 2022 World Cup.
However, CAS has yet to deliver a definitive verdict and the organization told
TASS on Monday that arbitration procedures are ongoing. “The parties are exchanging written submissions, arbitral tribunals are being appointed. After the composition of the commission is approved, it will be determined whether a hearing should be held, and if so, when. It is currently impossible to say when a final decision will be announced,” the CAS press service said.
UEFA’s statement on Monday added that its Executive Committee would
“remain on standby to convene further meetings to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary.”