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21 Jul, 2022 10:10

Russian football icon predicts when bans will end

Former Arsenal winger Andrey Arshavin commented as Russian teams suffer FIFA and UEFA suspensions
Russian football icon predicts when bans will end

Russian football is facing a period of enforced isolation from international tournaments until at least 2025, according to former Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin.

Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland threw out an appeal by Russian football bosses to overturn the bans imposed by UEFA and FIFA after the onset of the military campaign in Ukraine back in February.

The CAS ruling means that Russian national and club teams remain banned for an indefinite period from all European and international competitions, including the likes of the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League.

Asked to comment on when he sees the sanctions being lifted, ex-Arsenal ace Arshavin suggested that wouldn’t happen anytime soon.

“I’d bet that the earliest option for the return of Russian clubs to European competitions is 2025,”  the 41-year-old told RIA Novosti.

“It seems to me that we will have average results after the return. If everything is fine with finances, our top [clubs] will be able to improve.

“Don’t expect anything spectacular, but also [don’t expect] a complete failure,” added Arshavin, who is now deputy general director of sports development at Zenit St. Petersburg, where he spent much of his playing career. 

The ban on Russian clubs from European competitions, coupled with a FIFA ruling which allows foreign stars to unilaterally suspend their contracts with Russian teams until next summer, has seen some foreign talent leave the country in recent months.

Reigning Russian champions Zenit have managed to keep hold of their big-name foreign stars, although Arshavin suggested that the situation in general would provide fertile ground for homegrown talent to emerge.

“In my opinion, we should let everyone go and bet on our own,” Arshavin replied when asked if it was worth keeping hold of any wantaway foreign footballers.

Russian sporting officials have heavily criticized the UEFA and FIFA bans, as well as the decision to allow foreign players and coaches to temporarily leave Russian clubs without contractual repercussions.

Responding to the CAS verdict last Friday, the Russian Football Union (RFU) said it reserved the right to take its case to a higher court, potentially the Supreme Court of Switzerland.

UEFA announced in May that its ban on Russian teams would cover the 2022/23 season at the very least.

As part of the initial sanctions, the Russian city of St. Petersburg was stripped of last season’s Champions League final, which had been due to be held at Zenit’s Gazprom Arena home.

Instead, the event was moved to Paris, where it was marred by clashes between police and fans.  

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