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FIFA lifts suspension for Russian youth soccer teams

The decision has been taken a week after a similar move by the Union of European Football Associations

The world governing body for soccer, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), has decided to allow Russian junior teams to return to international competitions.

All Russian soccer teams have been subject to a blanket ban by the European and international football associations since the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Last week, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) also decided to lift the restrictions imposed against Russian youth teams.

Russia’s national boys and girls teams will now be allowed to take part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the federation said in a statement following a meeting of its council on Wednesday. The international body then cited a similar decision by UEFA, adding that the European youth competitions would serve as a “qualification pathway” for the international ones.


UEFA said in September that “children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults” as it announced its decision. The move was welcomed by Moscow. England’s Football Association expressed opposition and said that “England teams won’t play against Russia.”

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UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin
UEFA readmits Russian national youth soccer teams

The FIFA decision applies to Russian teams made up of players under 17. They will still be banned from playing under the Russian national flag, using their national anthem or their national-team kit and equipment, the statement said, adding that the Russian players should instead wear neutral colors and use the name “Football Union of Russia.”

The FIFA council also reaffirmed the ban imposed on the adult teams, saying that it would stay in place “until the end of the conflict” between Russia and Ukraine. The Russian Football Union (RFU) has not commented on the decision yet.


In September, RFU president Alexander Dyukov told journalists that it was still possible for Russia’s national team to take part in qualification matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The RFU was “negotiating with UEFA,” he said at that time.

Reports emerged late last year that the RFU was considering disavowing its UEFA membership altogether in favor of accepting an invitation from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Russia might have been eligible to compete in World Cup qualification matches had it done so, according to some media reports.

Dyukov confirmed the existence of such an option in September but called it a “theoretical possibility” and denied that the RFU was in talks with the AFC.

October 04, 2023 at 11:57PM


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