Fifa and Uefa suspend Russia from all football

Decision comes after International Olympic Committee urged federations to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from competitions

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World governing body Fifa and their European counterparts Uefa on Monday suspended Russia from all football competitions until further notice.

The top football bodies were under pressure to take action after a number of national federations refused to play against any Russian team - national or club - over the conflict in Ukraine.

In a statement by Uefa, the governing bodies said they hoped the situation in Ukraine improves 'rapidly'.

"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," the statement said.

"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."

Russia were scheduled to host Poland in a World Cup qualifying playoff on March 24. But they will not be able to play that fixture, effectively ending their World Cup 2022 hopes.

The Europa League last-16 match between Spartak Moscow and RB Leipzig was also called off, with Leipzig through to the quarter-finals.

Fifa had on Sunday announced that Russia could continue to play matches albeit at neutral venues and only under the name 'Football Union of Russia'.

However, England's Football Association announced they will not play against Russia, a view that was backed up by a number of European federations, including those of Wales and Scotland. The Polish FA refused to play against the Russian team and the Czech Republic and Sweden, who are in the same playoff route, also ruled out facing Russia.

Russia hosted the last World Cup in 2018, with the final held in Moscow, attended by President Vladimir Putin.

Fifa's decision came after the International Olympic Committee's executive board issued a recommendation to international sports federations on Monday to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials and teams from international competitions.

That IOC executive board decision effectively gave a green light to Fifa to exclude Russia from the World Cup.

The IOC said the exclusion recommendation had been made "in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants".

However, it was unclear how the IOC’s recommendation will affect Russian hockey players in the NHL and tennis players, including top-ranked Daniil Medvedev, in Grand Slam, ATP and WTA tournaments outside the authority of the International Tennis Federation.

Earlier, Uefa had moved the Champions League final away from St Petersburg on May 28 and switched it to the Stade de France in Paris.

At Wembley on Sunday, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson carried flowers in Ukraine's yellow and blue colours before kick-off in the League Cup final.

Updated: February 28, 2022, 8:51 PM
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