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Leaving UEFA possible: Russia postpones transfer decision to Asia

Status: 30/12/2022 2:17 p.m.

The Russian Football Union RFU has postponed its decision to leave UEFA and join the Asian Continental Confederation AFC (Asian Football Confederation).

A working group will be set up to deal with the subject, it was indicated on Friday, December 30, 2022 after a meeting of the executive committee of the URF. A decision can then be expected in March 2023 as to whether an application should be made with an application for admission to the AFC.

Exclusion due to the war of aggression against Ukraine

The Russian Football Association is still a member of the European association UEFA and the world association FIFA, but national teams and club teams have been banned from all competitions since February 28. The reason for this is Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which began on February 24.

The final of Champions League, which was to be held in St. Petersburg in May, has also been moved to Paris. In addition, UEFA terminated the sponsorship deal with Gazprom, the state-controlled energy company.

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With Russia banned by UEFA and FIFA, the senior men’s team missed the World Cup in Qatar, for which it is finished playoffs nor could have qualified. In order to have a chance of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada, a change of continental federation seems to be the only possible way.

Although there have been lone calls in recent months for sanctions against Russian sport to be eased, there has been no signal from UEFA, who are hosting the qualifiers. The Russian association, said a spokesman in Moscow on Friday, continues to bet on dialogue. If the talks fail and the exclusion from competitions persists, it could still result in the exit.

Russian FA president Alexander Dyukov, who remains a member of the UEFA Executive Committee, said FIFA had no objection to letting Russia play in the Asian qualifiers, according to media reports. There is no official statement from the global association on this.

With the decision, which was supposed to be made before Christmas, being postponed again, the problem of timing becomes even more important. Qualification for the 2026 World Cup will begin in Asia in the fall of 2023. Such a rapid transition with the necessary formal decisions is likely to be very difficult.

No association has ever left UEFA

In the history of UEFA, which currently has 55 members, there has never been a resignation. A query from the sports broadcast about how such a procedure is regulated has so far gone unanswered. The AFC has yet to respond to questions about the timing and procedure for Russia’s possible membership application.

The AFC has already accepted associations from other continents

the Asian Football Confederation based in Malaysia, has however already taken over several associations from other continents. The best known case is that of Australia.

The Australians had requested a change for sporting reasons. They resigned from the Oceanic Association and were admitted to the AFC after the 2006 World Cup.

A change in Russia, which is geographically largely located in Asia, would be politically conditioned. In Europe, politics have pushed sport into the background, according to Russian media, Dyukov said of plans to eventually leave UEFA. “We saw that at the World Cup in Qatar”, said the president of the Russian association. Nowadays Europeans don’t like that, so it’s human rights, so that LGBTQ+ movement, Dyukov teased, among other things, against the German Football Association (DFB), which in Qatar with a “one Love– The captain’s armband wanted to promote diversity and anti-discrimination, but abandoned those plans after a perceived threat of sporting sanctions from FIFA.

Australian Resistance

The mere announcement that a change in the continental association would be discussed sparked resistance. Nikita White, of Amnesty International Australia, told the British newspaper “Guardians“that the Australian Federation and the”Footballoos“The men’s national team had underlined in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar how important it was to respect human rights: “I can’t imagine Russia being welcomed into the AFC by those who respect human rights.”

Alert launcher Bonita Mersiades, who previously worked as communications director for Australia’s 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, told theGuardians“that Russia must remain excluded because of the attack on Ukraine, regardless of the association.

However, a rejection of a possible request by the RFU does not seem certain. Associations like Australia, Japan and South Korea are likely to oppose Russia’s admission, but the AFC also has Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, China, North Korea and Iran. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan also belong to the Asian continental association. Against these three countries, Russia have played their only international matches in recent months after being banned by UEFA and FIFA.

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