Sat, 21 May 2022

Russia set for UEFA Congress despite bans
10 May 2022, 21:31 GMT+10

UEFA is holding its 46th Congress in Austrian capital Vienna this week

A Russian delegation is taking part at this week's UEFA Congress in Vienna despite the organization imposing a range of bans on teams from the country because of the conflict in Ukraine.

European football's governing body is holding a meeting of its Executive Committee in the Austrian capital on Tuesday, followed by its 46th Ordinary Congress on Wednesday.

Russian officials have confirmed they will be in attendance for both gatherings, according to TASS, with the group headed by Russian Football Union (RFU) general secretary Alexander Alaev.

Earlier this month, UEFA unveiled fresh sanctions against Russian national teams and clubs which ban them from all competitions organized by the governing body in the 2022/23 season.

That includes the likes of flagship UEFA tournaments such as the Champions League, while the Russian women's team have been removed from this summer's European Championship in England.

A Russian bid to host the men's Euros in either 2028 or 2032 was also dismissed.

However, the RFU has not been suspended as a UEFA member, meaning it is free to attend events such as this week's gathering in Vienna.

Led by president Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA is set to announce a host of decisions at the meetings, including the schedule for its Euro 2024 tournament in Germany. It is as yet unclear if Russia will be allowed to attempt to qualify for the event. 

Despite moving to ban Russian and Belarusian teams in a decision initially announced alongside FIFA on February 28, UEFA president Ceferin has said it "breaks his heart" to see footballers "pay for a decision that is not theirs" regarding the conflict in Ukraine.

Ceferin has also suggested it is hypocrisy that UEFA ended its sponsorship deal with energy giant Gazprom under considerable pressure while European nations continue to purchase Russian gas.

Russia, which was also stripped of the 2022 Champions League final due to be held in St. Petersburg in May, has decried the bans imposed on it by UEFA and FIFA.

The RFU is awaiting a final verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland against the sanctions, which also caused the men's national team to be deprived of the chance to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Some figures in Russia have called for the country to turn its back on UEFA and seek to join its Asian counterpart instead, which would supposedly be more welcoming of Russian teams.

The RFU has largely quelled those suggestions thus far, with deputy director general Maxim Mitrofanov saying: "Officially, we see ourselves as part of FIFA and UEFA, depending on how the situation develops further, we will make certain decisions. We have worked out the scenarios for such decisions, while it is probably too early to voice them and say what measures the RFU will take."

As with its attendance at this week's UEFA Congress, a Russian delegation was also present at FIFA's Congress in Doha at the end of March.

There had been fears among the Russian press that FIFA would hold a vote on the potential suspension of the RFU as a member of the organization, although in the end those concerns proved unfounded.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino did comment on the sanctions imposed on the 2018 World Cup hosts, regretting that "it's not an easy decision, of course not, because it's about people who love football, like everywhere else.

"But we had to take the decision, and now we have to look forward and hope that the hostilities can stop and we can bring a little bit of peace," added Infantino.

READ MORE: FIFA boss explains decision to ban Russian teams

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