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FIFA Contemplates Russia’s Return to International Football: A Game-Changer in the Making?

FIFA Contemplates Russia’s Return to International Football: A Game-Changer in the Making?

FIFA is considering lifting the blanket ban on Russia competing in international football, following UEFA’s decision to relax its position on Russia.

The Background of the Ban and UEFA’s Decision

In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which led to FIFA implementing a blanket ban on Russian teams from participating in international football. This ban was seen as a show of solidarity with the people affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

However, UEFA recently decided to ease their own ban on Russian international teams, allowing them to participate in the upcoming Under-17s Euros qualifying matches. This decision came with certain restrictions, such as not allowing the Russian teams to use their national kit, flag, or anthem.

FIFA’s Consideration and Possible Implications

FIFA is now considering following UEFA’s lead and ending the complete ban on Russian teams. The decision could be made during a FIFA Council meeting, with the aim of allowing Russian teams to participate in the Under-17s World Cups if they qualify.

FIFA is viewing the Under-17s European Championships as de facto qualifiers for the global level, which provides a logical reason to readmit Russia. However, this decision would come too late for the men’s Under-17s World Cup in November, but Russia could potentially qualify for the women’s event next year.

Divisions and Controversies Arising from the Decision

The decision to lift the ban on Russian teams has created divisions in Europe. England has threatened to boycott matches against Russia, while Ukraine is calling for the continent to support their opposition to Russia’s participation.

UEFA, however, is privately pointing out that Ukraine’s government now allows their athletes to compete against Russians as neutrals. This may be seen as a justification for UEFA’s decision to relax the ban on Russian teams.

FIFA’s Response and Conclusion

FIFA’s media department has not responded to requests for comment on Russia in the past week. As FIFA considers easing the ban on Russian teams, it remains to be seen how this decision will be received and what implications it may have for international football.

In conclusion, FIFA’s consideration of lifting the blanket ban on Russia competing in international football comes after UEFA’s decision to relax their own ban. This decision has created divisions and controversies in Europe, with some countries threatening to boycott matches against Russia. The final decision and its implications remain uncertain, but it marks a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding Russia’s participation in international football.

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