Russia remains banned from international football as sports courts confirm bans

CAS upheld decisions by UEFA and FIFA banning Russian national teams and clubs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

CAS upheld decisions by UEFA and FIFA banning Russian national teams and clubs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Russia remains banned from international football competitions including the Champions League after the Arbitration Court for Sport on Friday rejected appeals from the national football federation and four clubs.

CAS upheld decisions by UEFA and FIFA banning Russian national teams and clubs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia was already excluded from men’s and women’s World Cup qualifiers. His clubs will not take part in competitions like the Champions League in 2022-23.

“The panel finds it unfortunate that the current military operations in Ukraine, for which Russian football teams, clubs and players themselves are not responsible, have had such a negative impact on them and Russian football in general, due to the decisions of FIFA and UEFA, but these Impacts were offset by the need for the safe and orderly conduct of football events for the rest of the world, in the panel’s view,” CAS ruled.

The ruling adds that FIFA and UEFA have not exceeded their powers in dealing with “unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances”.

The decision sees national champions Zenit St Petersburg eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League. Another Russian team, Sochi, will not be included in the Champions League third qualifying round draw scheduled for Monday. If the Russians were allowed to participate, it was not clear where their home games could be played or if Ukrainian clubs would boycott them.

Friday’s decision was eagerly awaited by Russian clubs. They have made plans to schedule domestic cup games on the dates when European games will be played next season.

CAS did not label the fighting an “invasion” or “war” – terms rejected by Russia, which describes its actions as a “special military operation” – and assigned no blame.

Russia’s national football association said it “strongly disagrees with CAS’ decision and reserves the right to continue to protect its own interests”. The next steps could include a claim for damages or a re-appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. The Swiss Federal Supreme Court overturns CAS judgments for only a few reasons, such as abuse of legal recourse.

Advantage Shakhtar Donetsk

The Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, among others, will benefit from the decision. Russia’s exclusion means they retain their place in the Champions League group stage as a team from the next best country. Shakhtar has not played in his hometown of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine since the area was taken over by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.

“Sport in Russia, and football in particular, serves as an important tool of state propaganda and promotes Russia’s policy of death and destruction,” Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin said in a statement. “And we thank the court for joining organizations from different sectors around the world in excluding and isolating Russia from any ‘normal existence’ until it ends the war against Ukraine and gives up all occupied Ukrainian territories.”

Ukrainian clubs will play their European games at neutral venues abroad next season, with Shakhtar planning to host matches in Poland.

UEFA said it “takes note of today’s CAS decisions dismissing the appeals” from the Russian FA and clubs. There was no immediate response from FIFA.

After the invasion began in February, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic pledged to boycott March’s World Cup qualifiers playoffs against Russia. This left UEFA and FIFA with a choice between excluding Russia or allowing the Russian team to qualify by default.

The Russian men’s team was disqualified from the current Nations League, which entails automatic relegation. The next big competition will be in March, when qualifying for the 2024 European Championships will begin. The women’s national team was replaced by Portugal at the European Championships in England this month and has been removed from qualifying for next year’s World Cup. Russia also remains banned from a number of junior and age group competitions.

CAS will also hear other cases involving Russian athletes and teams in numerous other sports. Many governing bodies have justified Russia’s exclusion on security grounds similar to those of UEFA.

Olympic sport has largely followed the lead of the International Olympic Committee, which says its recommendation to ban athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus is aimed at protecting those competitors from potential harm.

The football cases were among the first to be decided at CAS over the upcoming deadline for the Champions League qualifying draw.

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