Russian teams were suspended Monday from all international soccer, including qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup, as Moscow was pushed toward pariah status in sports after its invasion of Ukraine.
World soccer body FIFA and European authority UEFA banned Russian national and clubs teams from their competitions “until further notice.” Russia’s men’s national team had been scheduled to play in World Cup qualifying playoffs in just three weeks’ time.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said in a joint statement.
The high-level punishment involving sports and politics — not seen for decades — came after the International Olympic Committee pushed dozens of sports governing bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events. The IOC said this was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”
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Denying Russia a place on the international stage should deliver a financial and psychological blow to the country, along with tarnishing its image as an elite sports powerhouse.
FIFA's move excluded Russia from the World Cup ahead of qualifying playoff on March 24. Poland already had refused to play its scheduled game against Russia.
UEFA also took the last remaining Russians in European club competitions this season, Spartak Moscow, out of the second-tier Europa League. Spartak's scheduled opponent on March 10 and 17, Leipzig of Germany, advances directly to the quarterfinals, UEFA said.
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Russia now faces the kind of isolation suffered by Yugoslavian teams in 1992 after war broke out in the Balkans and by South African teams and athletes in the 1970s and 1980s during the apartheid era of racial segregation and discrimination.
Decisions by FIFA and UEFA can typically be challenged on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
Sports bodies across Europe already had moved against Russia on Monday by refusing to host or play against teams from the country.
Finland wants the Russian hockey team banned from the men’s world championships it will host in May, the Swiss soccer federation said its women’s team will not play Russia in July at the European Championship, and German soccer club Schalke said it had decided to end its longstanding partnership with Gazprom.
In the World Cup, Russia's potential future opponents Sweden and the Czech Republic had joined Poland saying they would refuse to take the field.
The World Cup is scheduled to begin on Nov. 21 in Qatar.
FIFA had tried to compromise Sunday by suggesting Russia play at neutral venues without its flag and anthem and under the Football Union of Russia name.
That aligned with sanctions imposed by CAS in December 2020 to punish Russia for state-backed doping and cover-ups of cheating, and applied at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and this year’s Winter Games in Beijing.
Polish soccer federation president Cezary Kulesza said Sunday it was “totally unacceptable” that FIFA had not immediately expelled Russia from World Cup qualifying and said Poland is “not interested in participating in this game of appearances.”
Another future opponent, Albania, also said Sunday it would not play against Russia in any sports. Russia and Albania are scheduled to meet twice in June in the UEFA Nations League soccer tournament.
This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.