Sports court announces decision on Russian football bans
The Russian Football Union (RFU) and a quartet of Russian football clubs have had their appeals against UEFA and FIFA bans rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
The sports court announced the decision in a statement on Friday after the RFU and clubs challenged the ban imposed by FIFA and UEFA on February 28 following the onset of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
“The appeals filed by the [Russian Football Union] against the decisions taken on 28 February 2022 by the Bureau of the FIFA Council (the FIFA appeal) and the UEFA Executive Committee (the UEFA appeal) to suspend all Russian teams and clubs from participation in their respective competitions until further notice have been dismissed and the Challenged Decisions are confirmed,” the decision read.
The appeals by Russian clubs Zenit St. Petersburg, Sochi, CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow against suspension from UEFA competitions were also dismissed.
Explaining its decisions, CAS stated that its panel had determined that “the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the public and government responses worldwide, created unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances to which FIFA and UEFA had to respond.”
“In determining that Russian teams and clubs should not participate in competitions under their aegis while such circumstances persisted, the Panel held that both parties [FIFA and UEFA] acted within the scope of the discretion granted to them under their respective statutes and regulations,” it added.
“The Panel found it unnecessary to characterize the nature of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but only to focus on the consequences of such conflict for the competitions affected.”
The CAS panel said it was “unfortunate” that Russian football clubs and players had been affected by a situation beyond their control, but that the adverse effects on them were “offset by the need for the secure and orderly conduct of football events for the rest of the world.”
The news is a blow for Russia’s hopes of being integrated back into European and world football.
The initial decisions by FIFA and UEFA meant, among other things, that the Russian men’s national team were prevented from attempting to qualify for the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup which will be held later this year.
The Russian women’s team were removed from the UEFA European Championships which are currently underway in England.
UEFA has also banned Russian clubs from competitions such as the prestigious Champions League, announcing in early May that the suspension would extend at least to the entire 2022/23 season.
Last season’s Champions League final, which was due to be held in St. Petersburg in May, was stripped from Russia and moved to Paris, where it witnessed disturbing scenes as police clashed with fans.
The Russian football authorities have decried the bans on their country as discriminatory and a result of political pressures being allowed to undermine sporting principles.