UEFA opposed to potential Russian exit – media
A move to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been mooted amid sanctions imposed on Russian football
European football governing body UEFA would be against a move by the Russian Football Union (RFU) to join its Asian counterpart, according to a report. A potential switch to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is among the topics for discussion at an RFU executive committee meeting on Friday.
“Despite the current situation, UEFA does not want to lose Russia’s membership in its organization,” Russian outlet Championat reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the situation.
“UEFA is in favor of a variant in which, after the tension of the geopolitical situation is reduced, Russian football will begin to integrate into European football again.
“For UEFA, the loss of such a country will be a big reputational blow, even under the current situation,” added the report.
Russian teams remain banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions at all levels because of the conflict with Ukraine. The football governing bodies initially announced their sanctions at the end of February, following a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has defended the decision but said “football is the loser” in the circumstances.
The Russian men’s national team was deprived of the chance to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and has already been removed from the qualification process for the 2024 UEFA European Championships.
Russia has thus far failed in its appeals against the UEFA and FIFA bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, but has said it could pursue the matter with the Swiss federal supreme court.
The sweeping bans imposed on Russian athletes by global federations – which are viewed in Russia as being driven by Western forces – have led to suggestions that the country could exit numerous European sporting organizations in favor of their Asian equivalents.
At an IOC summit in Switzerland earlier in December, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) proposed that Russians and Belarusians could appear at events under its auspices as a pathway back to competition ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The IOC said it would explore the proposal, which was met with “unanimous support” among those present at the summit.
Some figures in Russian football have cautioned against a move to the AFC, however, which would mean teams leaving prestigious and lucrative UEFA club tournaments such as the Champions League.
Leading Russian football administrator Alexey Sorokin, who headed the local organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup, said this week that Russia has “strong and long-standing” ties with UEFA, but that talk of an Asian switch was “justified and inevitable” in the current circumstances.