Russia cast into sporting wilderness



The sporting world has closed its doors to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA and UEFA have swiftly followed the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that its athletes be barred from international events, by suspending Russian teams from international soccer.

It means, unless troops are soon withdrawn and a peace settlement agreed, Russia will be kicked out of this year’s men’s World Cup and Women’s Euros.

A growing number of countries had already said they would refuse to play Russian teams at any level.

The recommendation from the IOC, which in addition stripped Russian President Vladimir Putin of the Olympic Order, also applied to athletes from Belarus, from where some Russian forces are entering Ukraine, and officials from both nations.

Finland had already told ice hockey’s ruling body that it did not want either Russia or Belarus to participate in the world championships it will host in May.

Swimming’s global governing body called off the World Junior Swimming Championships that were set to take place in Kazan in August.

Badminton’s world governing body cancelled all sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus.

Ukrainian sports bodies have called for individuals such as tennis players and Formula One drivers, to be barred from competing in events. This would jeopardise new tennis men’s No.1 Daniil Medvedev from defending his position and the F1 season of Haas driver Nikita Mazepin.

Manchester City’s Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko echoed that plea and added, via Instagram, “Stop the sale of rights to broadcasts of international sporting competitions to Russian media. Prohibit Russian companies from being sponsors of international competitions and clubs.”

FIFA and European governing body UEFA issued a joint statement suspending the participation of Russian teams in their competitions ‘until further notice’.

In March Russia are due to compete in qualifying play-offs for this year World Cup, initially against Poland, then against the winner of Sweden’s tie with Czech Republic. All three countries had refused to play Russia.

In July Russia Women are due to play in the Euros in England. Switzerland, their opening opponents, had said they would not play the tie.

The move also meant Spartak Moscow were expelled from the Europa League with opponents RB Leipzig progressing to the last eight.

UEFA also cancelled their sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The IOC, stating the ‘integrity of sporting competition’ was affected if Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete while many Ukrainian ones could not, said their executive board “recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”

It added that under exceptional circumstances athletes from the two countries could compete as neutrals.

The IOC added Putin and two officials were stripped of the Olympic Order “based on the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past.”

Russian Olympic committee leader Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement “there is only one comment to make — we categorically disagree,” adding it would help national federations to challenge “discriminatory rulings.”

The IOC’s statement came shortly before the Winter Paralympics, which start in Beijing on Friday. The International Paralympic Committee meets on Wednesday to discuss Russia ahead of the Games.

Meanwhile Sheriff Tiraspol manager Yuriy Vernydub, who led the Transnistrian club to victory over Real Madrid earlier this year, has joined many of Ukraine’s notable boxing figures in taking up arms to defend the country.


We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles