Fifa and Uefa suspend Russian teams from club and international football

Uefa ends relationship with Gazprom while RB Leipzig progress to last eight of Europa League

Fifa and Uefa have suspended Russian teams from competing in international and club football following the military invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement released on Monday evening, the two governing bodies said all Russian teams, “whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both Fifa and Uefa competitions until further notice.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents [of Fifa and Uefa] hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

Uefa has also ended its partnership across all competitions with Russia’s state-owned gas corporation Gazprom.


“Uefa has today decided to end its partnership with Gazprom across all competitions. The decision is effective immediately and covers all existing agreements including the Uefa Champions League, Uefa national team competitions and Uefa Euro 2024.”

The sponsorship deal has been in place since 2012 and has been reported to be worth around €40 million per season.

German club Schalke 04 also ended a 15-year sponsorship deal with Gazprom while Manchester United announced they had withdrawn from a deal with Russian airline Aeroflot.

Red Bull Leipzig will progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League due to Spartak Moscow’s suspension.

On Monday morning, 10 football associations, including the FAI, supported Poland's refusal to play Russia in the World Cup qualifier on March 24th, which in turn put the emphasis on Fifa to respond with stronger sanctions.

Sweden and the Czech Republic had also pulled out of a potential World Cup qualifier on March 29th if Russia were allowed to progress towards Qatar 2022.

On Sunday, Fifa adopted the “recommendations” of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but fell short of removing Russian teams from international competition.

Their flag and anthem were banned, similar to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, as punishment for “the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine”.

However, Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza responded by boycotting this month’s qualification playoff against the “Football Union of Russia (RFU)”.

“Fifa’s decision is totally unacceptable,” said Kulesza. “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.

“Due to the disgraceful decision of Fifa, the Polish FA sent a letter to all football federations in Europe. We presented our position and encouraged them to stand by our side. Because only united we will be strong. No indulgence for Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The IOC announced Monday that all Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from international events, but where this is not possible “on short notice for organisational or legal reasons” they can compete as “neutral” athletes or teams.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, when asked if he would return the Order of Friendship medal given to him by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2019 and whether sport has helped legitimise the aggressive actions of Russia, replied: “I firmly believe that sport brings people together. Football is the people’s sport. It is not about individuals, it is about all the people from all over the world.”

Irish reaction

The Republic of Ireland have expressed solidarity with Ukraine and other football nations by refusing to play Russia “whilst the current situation prevails”.

Hill, on Monday, stated in an FAI release: “In light of the current situation, I can confirm that we will not consider any international fixture against any Russian side, no matter what the level, until further notice.”

Taking a leaf out of 10 Downing Street’s book, the FAI and the IRFU decided to light up the Aviva Stadium in Ukrainian colours at 7pm on Monday night.

“We have confirmed to our colleagues at the Ukraine Association of Football that the FAI stands firmly alongside them in light of this terrible situation,” said FAI president Gerry McAnaney.

“We will join with the IRFU and Aviva Insurance to turn the Aviva Stadium yellow and blue this evening and I am sure that fans at our League of Ireland games tonight will also show their support for the people of the Ukraine.”

Ireland’s Nations League tie against Ukraine on June 4th at the Aviva Stadium is set to go ahead but Uefa have confirmed that the away tie on June 14th, initially set for Lviv, will be moved to a neutral venue.

Uefa are also being forced to react to several countries demanding Russia’s exclusion from the women’s Euro 2022 in England this summer. Portugal are likely to replace them.


On Saturday night, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich passed “stewardship and care” of the club to the Chelsea charitable foundation while a spokeswoman for the oligarch said he was attempting to broker peace between Ukraine and Russia. Piara Power, one of the Chelsea Foundation’s six trustees, has described Putin as a “war-monger.”

The BBC understands that Abramovich is not seeking an immediate return on a £1.5 billion loan to the club.

“The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating,” Chelsea said in a statement before losing Sunday’s Carabao Cup final to Liverpool. “Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent