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Our players have nothing to do with Ukraine invasion: Russian football official

Russian national teams and clubs have been suspended by global football governing body FIFA and European confederation UEFA.

• March 31, 2022
Russian team

An official of the Russian Football Union, RFU, Alexey Sorokin, has lamented the exclusion of the Russian football team from the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier following his country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Sorokin, a delegate of the RFU at the FIFA congress, on Thursday, said it was shocking that his country would be sanctioned for the political impasse with its neighbours.

“We find it kind of strange that the Russian team was not allowed to play in this (World Cup) qualification,” Mr Sorokin said. “It’s strange. We feel that our football players and football lovers have nothing to do with (the invasion).”

Russian national teams and clubs have been suspended by global football governing body FIFA and European confederation UEFA, but the ban does not apply to the Russian Football Union (RFU).

The RFU has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision to ban Russia from FIFA and UEFA competitions.

But it is very unlikely they can now participate in the World Cup, with Poland having qualified from the play-off path which contained Russia.

Speaking of his presence at the congress, Mr Sorokin said Russia had “every right” to be in Doha in spite of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are not hiding. We have every right to be here,” he said.

No national associations appear to have publicly expressed disagreement with Russia’s presence at the congress, and none has decided to boycott it as a result.

Also, there was no obvious dissent when the delegation was declared present in Doha.

Meanwhile, Russia declared an interest in hosting Euro 2028 or 2032 and to attend world football’s biggest annual gathering of national associations.

Mr Sorokin was asked about the decision to declare an interest in bidding for Euro 2028 or 2032 amid the invasion, and he said: “It is a long time until 2032.”

On whether Russia could successfully overcome a UK and Ireland bid for 2028, he added: “It’s a dual year bid —- we have the choice of 2028 or 2032. We need to start.”


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