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Russia to stick with UEFA – football official

Russian football authorities had been considering a switch to Asia’s 47-member confederation

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has voted against pursuing membership in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as it seeks renewed ties with European football’s governing body, UEFA, according to an official.

Russian teams have remained suspended from participation in most major international and club competitions since the sport’s European and global administrators, UEFA and FIFA, imposed sanctions following the launch of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.

RFU President Alexander Dyukov said in November 2022 that Russia’s football authorities were considering a switch to Asia’s 47-member confederation. The potential move was touted as an option to allow Russian teams to continue international competition in the face of ongoing football sanctions.

But after the RFU noted signs of UEFA’s stance softening, an official with the organization confirmed that it has voted to remain within the European football infrastructure.

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“We voted unanimously against it because there are no guarantees from FIFA,” RFU executive committee member Mikhail Gershkovich said to RIA Novosti on Wednesday. “We decided to continue contacts with UEFA, especially since there is progress,” he added. “Let’s see how the situation develops next year.”

Both FIFA and UEFA have signaled a potential relaxation of restrictions on Russian football. UEFA said earlier this year that it was considering permitting the Russian under-17 teams to compete internationally, saying that “children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults.”

UEFA later abandoned the plan, saying it could not find a “technical solution” to permit Russian teams to play. Several football federations – Ukraine, Poland, and England included – had said that their youth teams would refuse to play against Russian teams in protest.

However, in October, FIFA said it was lifting its suspension on Russian under-17 girls and boys teams under certain provisions. These included the teams playing under the name of the ‘Football Union of Russia’ and the removal of national symbols, such as the national anthem and flag.

Since the sanctions were introduced, the Russian men’s national team has played several friendly matches. The most recent exhibition match played by Valeri Karpin’s team was on November 20, when they defeated Cuba 8-0 in Volgograd. Russia has not played football in a competitive setting since a 1-0 loss to Croatia in Split on November 14, 2021.

December 21, 2023 at 12:46AM

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