Fifa and Uefa have acted in unison to suspend Russian teams from international football competition on Monday as global sport closed the door on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
The most powerful bodies in football joined the International Olympic Committee in acting after days of growing protest. The suspension means Russia will not be able to face Poland in a World Cup play-off semi-final next month, while its women’s team will also be barred from this summer’s European Championship in England and its remaining club side in European competition, Spartak Moscow, will no longer compete in the Europa League.
In a joint statement the two organisations said: “Fifa and Uefa have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both Fifa and Uefa competitions until further notice.
“These decisions were adopted today by the Bureau of the Fifa Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters. Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”
Uefa also announced a second highly significant move, confirming that it had cancelled a long-standing and highly lucrative sponsorship deal with Gazprom. The Russian gas company had been a sponsor of the Champions League for a decade and the final of this year’s competition was to have been played in the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg.
Last week Uefa moved the match to Paris, however, and has now severed the relationship entirely. “Uefa has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions,” a statement said. “The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the Uefa Champions League, Uefa national team competitions and Uefa Euro 2024.”
On Sunday, Fifa had said that Russia could continue to compete in World Cup qualifying if they changed their name and played matches on neutral grounds. An action described by Fifa as taking “initial measures”, it was resisted fiercely by Poland, Russia’s opponents in World Cup qualification. The Polish stance was supported by a number of other European nations, too, including the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.