UEFA and FIFA Halt Putin’s Hopes for Strong Soccer Nation

Ethan Dunn, Staff Writer

With the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine many corporations, celebrities, and countries have cut all ties with Russia or have minimized them.

Two of these being FIFA and UEFA. UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, has banned Russia from all soccer competition in the upcoming months. This includes, World Cup qualifiers, UEFA Nations League, and friendly matches. FIFA and UEFA have also banned all club teams from Russia from competing in any competitions including league play inside Russia.

The Women’s team was due to play in the Women’s Euros in July and the Men’s team was nearing qualification to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year. Gazprom Stadium in St. Petersburg was set to hold the UEFA Champions League final in June, but has been stripped of the duty and it will now be hosted in Paris. 

This is a rare occurrence for both FIFA and UEFA. They have banned nations from competition before, but usually they are for government interference inside the nations respected governing body. The ban comes after Putin declared an unprovoked war on neighboring Ukraine. Both bodies took minimal time to make this decision to ban Russia from all competitions. The invasion of Ukraine began last week and within a couple of days the ban was put into play. FIFA and UEFA are not political or humanitarian associations; they are simply for sport and the control of the sport of soccer. That is why this is a surprise to many including the Russian Football Association who believes the ban is unfair due to the fact that the war is not a people’s war, but a Putin war. 

The Russian Football Union will be appealing the ban with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the coming days. The union said in a statement it would file one lawsuit against the two governing bodies to demand that Russian men’s and women’s national teams be allowed to compete, including in qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar. The Russian Football Union also believes that the World Cup should be postponed due to the qualification rounds being affected by this conflict.

This was not the original plan for both governing bodies to outright ban Russia from world soccer. The initial statement regarding Russia from FIFA was the teams could play, but it would not allow any Russian flags, their national anthem, and no fans. They then put a complete ban on Russian play internationally and domestically. 

The economic impact this ban will have on teams and corporations will be felt for years. Teams rely on fans and sponsors in order to exist; basically, no money no team. Spartak Moscow’s biggest sponsor Lukoil has pulled all advertisements from the club which will cost millions for both the corporations and the clubs. Spartak Moscow was set to play in the Round of 16 in the Europa league later this month and were expected to do well. 

When lives are at risk sports should take a backseat in everyone’s mind. But, the economic effects will be felt not only by the clubs, fans, and politicians but everyone in the nation.