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26 Aug, 2022 11:24

Football chief shares insight on UEFA attitude towards Russia

Russian teams remain suspended from all European competitions
Football chief shares insight on UEFA attitude towards Russia

UEFA is not “indifferent” to the fate of Russian football despite the current bans imposed on the country, according to Russian Premier League president Aleksandr Alaev.

The European football governing body joined global counterpart FIFA in suspending all Russian teams from their competitions following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has previously said the decision was taken with a heavy heart, even though the organization extended the ban in May so that it will cover the entirety of the 2022/23 season.

Newly-elected RPL boss Alaev, who is a key football figure in his homeland, says that “unofficial” contact has remained in place with UEFA even as Russian teams miss competitions such as the Champions League, Nations League, and Women’s European Championships.   

“Our colleagues from UEFA understand everything. It is clear that, based on the results of these unofficial contacts, they convey their position, and we convey ours,” Alaev told Russian outlet Championat in an interview published on Friday.  

“It’s a very delicate process, but they read and monitor everything. More than once in an informal conversation I was told: ‘as soon as the situation normalizes, then it will immediately be possible to discuss the return.’

“I feel that Ceferin is not indifferent to our fate. You understand what position he was in,” Alaev added.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) lost its appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to overturn the UEFA and FIFA bans in July, although CAS judges said it was “unfortunate” that Russian clubs and players had been affected by a situation beyond their control.

Outside of European football, the Russian men’s national team was also deprived of the chance to attempt to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which gets underway in November.

Another delicate issue for Russian football and UEFA remains the integration of Crimean teams into Russian competitions.

Even thought the peninsula rejoined Russia from Ukraine in 2014 after a landslide referendum, Crimean teams play in their own competition under the “special status” of the Crimean Football Union.

Efforts have been stepped up in Russian to change the situation, with a working group being established by the lower-tier Russian Football National League (FNL) to consider the readiness of Crimean teams to join.

Alaev recently said the process of integration is “inevitable,” although UEFA this week doubled down on its opposition to the move.

Speaking to Championat, Alaev said the issue must be treated with careful consideration.

“Football in this territory should develop. This is a fact. I’m not even talking about politics now – people live there. They should be able to learn and play football, and this is not happening,” said the RPL chief of football in Crimea. 

“Yes, people need to be helped, but the point is not that they put a stamp on it, accept them as members and that’s it…

“We all remember that in 2014 there was an official decision to accept clubs in the PFL [in Russia]. And what happened next? We received a signal that in this case, Russia’s membership in UEFA will be suspended,” Alaev added. 

The Russian Premier League boss suggested again that once the situation “stabilizes,” UEFA could reconsider its overall stance on Russia and the Crimean question.