Lawyer explains why Russia should win case against FIFA & UEFA bans
A Russian Football Union (RFU) official has claimed at the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum on Friday that the restrictions placed upon Russian football teams in the wake of the country's military operation in Ukraine violate the standards and practices of the Olympic Charter.
Russian sport has been hit with wide-ranging sanctions by various sporting federations in recent months, with the impact being felt in football.
The Russian men's national team was barred from competing in a 2022 World Cup playoff earlier this year, effectively removing any possibility of the 2018 hosts appearing at the showpiece tournament in Qatar later this year.
Russian club teams have also been barred from competing in European competitions such as the UEFA Champions League for the 2022/23 season, while St. Petersburg was stripped of its hosting rights for the 2022 Champions League final which was instead moved to Paris.
However, speaking at the forum on Friday, sports lawyer Denis Rogachev, who serves as the Deputy Secretary General of the RFU, said that the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could well be obliged to overturn ongoing suspensions if, as he argues, they were implemented in opposition to standards of the Olympic Charter and international law.
“The problem that CAS will solve, and not only in football, is related to the fundamental question: how limited are the organizers of the competitions and international regulators in their rights or are their hands completely free for any decision in relation to any subject anywhere in the world?” Rogachev asked, as quoted by TASS.
“In other words, can they, at the snap of their fingers, come up with a fantasy response that will limit the rights of the corresponding participant?
“In all proceedings, there are globally the right elements: guilt, a pre-formulated composition of violations, a procedure that at least includes the need to provide the potentially punished side with the right to express arguments. All this, at least in football, did not happen.
“If the CAS judges hear these arguments, it will become obvious that absolutely unmotivated measures, not provided for by the regulatory documents of non-state regulators, have been applied to Russian sports and football in particular.”
Chief among Rogachev's disquiet is that the suspensions violate a central sporting ethic: the prohibition of discrimination on sports teams for political reasons.
“One of its principles categorically prohibits discrimination of any subject of sports for political reasons,” he explained.
“The fact that some international federations follow the lead of individual national federations that refuse to play with Russian teams means that they put politics above the non-political nature of sport.”
Rogachev's statement comes almost two months to the day after UEFA doubled down on its suspension of Russian football when it barred Valeri Karpin's national team from taking part in next season's Nations League, as well as various other restrictions aimed at clubs, women's and youth teams.
Shortly afterwards four Russian teams - CSKA, Zenit, Dynamo and Sochi - announced that they would appeal the suspensions to CAS, with a case also filed by the RFU.
Rogachev said CAS is set to hold its first meeting to discuss the situation on July 5, with another to follow on July 11.