RFU, UEFA create group to ease Russia's return to Int'l tournaments
RFU President Alexander Dyukov says that a joint group will be formed to work on facilitating Russian teams' return to international tournaments.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will form a joint group to work for facilitating Russian teams' return to international tournaments, RFU President Alexander Dyukov said Friday.
Russia has been considering joining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after the International Football Federation (FIFA) and UEFA suspended Russian national football teams from participating in international tournaments due to Russia's special operation in Ukraine. FIFA promised to let Russia to participate in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers if it joins the AFC.
"Today we concluded the executive committee meeting. We continued to discuss the transition to Asia [Asian Football Confederation]. We decided to ask UEFA to create a working group. We invited three UEFA members [to join the group], we also want to invite representatives of the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and FIFA. We have not yet spoken to them about participation in the working group. I think FIFA will be interested, it is also important for them to find a solution. The goal is to analyze and work out a road map for the speedy return of Russian teams to international tournaments," Dyukov said.
Read: UEFA cancels Champions League in Russia, moves it to France
The working group will be formed after the New Year's holidays, and the work will be done by April 1, Dyukov noted, adding that an agreement has been reached with UEFA to create the group, and he would send an official letter to the agency today.
"It is important for us to take part in the 2026 World Cup, so the working group will work on the option that will allow this to happen. It is not correct to say that UEFA has become more cooperative. We have made concrete approaches on how to resolve the issue. Of course, UEFA does not want to lose us, otherwise they would have expelled us long ago," Dyukov added.
The Russian national team was excluded from the playoffs for the World Cup in Qatar. In March, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) refused to lift FIFA's ban on Russia participating in the World Cup playoffs for 2022. In July, the CAS rejected the Russian football union and four clubs' appeals to reverse the UEFA and FIFA bans on Russian teams. In September, UEFA decided to suspend the Russian national team from the 2024 European Championship.
Instances of Russophobia in sports have been on the high since the start of the war in Ukraine, with aggressive media campaigns against young skaters and recent British sanctions against an Olympic gymnast and "Putin associates."