Russian sports considering Asia switch – Kremlin
The Russian Football Union (RFU) isn’t the only Russian sports federation considering a switch to Asian governance, according to Igor Levitin who is an aide to President Vladimir Putin.
Russian teams, clubs, and athletes are frozen out of many major sports after international and continental federations such as UEFA and FIFA in football followed the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recommendation to ban them in response to the military operation in Ukraine.
RFU President Aleksandr Dyukov informed Russian media a fortnight ago that the RFU would “consider this issue at the executive committee,” regarding switching to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Last week, the Russian Diving Federation’s (RDF) president, Stanislav Druzhinin, said that his organization is in talks with the International Swimming Federation (FINA) about switching to the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) from the European Swimming League (LEN), and this has been given credence by comments Levitin made on Sunday.
“The summit showed that the Olympic movement is for the athletes,” Levitin said, reacting to the Olympic Summit unanimously agreeing to further explore a proposal that would “facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place.”
Furthermore, it should grant the athletes the chance to enter qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
“Not only the RFU is thinking [of moving to Asia], but all federations are to get to international competitions,” Levitin added.
“Everything depends on international federations. The world is changing, it is important that our athletes participate in competitions. An athlete needs to show the results [of their training].”
Levitin, who was speaking from Qatar, where the World Cup is currently being held, said he wasn’t familiar with the RFU’s plans to switch to the AFC from UEFA, but stressed that the Russian national football team should have the chance to play in official matches.
“Next is the 2026 World Cup, we should announce ourselves, show ourselves,” Levitin said.
UEFA and FIFA’s ban meant that the Russian men’s national team was unable to play a qualifying semifinal for Qatar 2022, in which Poland was given a bye before beating Sweden in the final in Warsaw.
Russia has also been banned from qualifying for Euro 2024 in Germany, but has played friendlies against regional neighbors Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan from late September to late November, with another against Bosnia and Herzegovina canceled after the Balkan nation pulled out.