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FIFA, UEFA Suspend Russia From International Football

FIFA and UEFA said they are suspending all Russian national and club soccer teams from competition until further notice.

The UEFA soccer league also said it’s ending its partnership with Russian gas company Gazprom.

“The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the UEFA Champions League, UEFA national team competitions and UEFA EURO 2024,” UEFA said.

The suspension, which was announced Monday evening in coordination with European soccer’s governing body, also barred Russian club teams from international competitions. The decision came a day after FIFA was heavily criticized for not going far enough in punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and amid mounting demands from national federations for stronger action.

The initial pressure for an outright ban of Russia came from soccer officials in Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, whose national team faced the prospect of games against Russia in a World Cup playoff in March. Other countries and officials, including the federations representing France, England and the United States, quickly said they would not play Russia under any circumstances.

FIFA and its European counterpart, UEFA, said the ban on Russia would be in place “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA said in a statement. Ukraine’s team, which is set to play Scotland in its own World Cup playoff in March, will remain in the competition.

UEFA then went a step further in breaking its deep ties to Russia: It announced that it had ended a sponsorship agreement with the Russian energy giant Gazprom. The deal was worth a reported $50 million a year to European soccer.

UEFA had last week stripped St. Petersburg, the home of Gazprom, of this year’s Champions League final. The game will be played in France instead.

FIFA and UEFA decided to bar Russia only hours after the International Olympic Committee called for international sports federations to prohibit Russian athletes and teams from all global sporting events where possible. The Olympic officials said Russia had breached a commitment — known as the Olympic Truce, and signed before the start of the Beijing Winter Games and scheduled to run through the Paralympics that open this week — when it invaded Ukraine.

The immediate consequence of soccer’s ban on Russia is that it will lose its place in a four-team group for one of Europe’s final places for the World Cup. Poland, which was scheduled to play Russia in March in Moscow, had said flatly that it would refuse to take the field for the game, a stance it repeated after FIFA announced its initial slate of penalties on Sunday night.

Cezary Kulesza, the president of Poland’s soccer federation, called FIFA’s initial decision not to eject Russia “totally unacceptable.” In a post on Twitter, he added: “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.”

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