Russian Football Union votes to stay with Uefa

Pedestrians walk past the Russian Football Federation (RFS) headquarters in Moscow on Dec 23, 2022. AFP

MOSCOW – The Russian Football Union (RFU) said on Friday it wanted its teams to return to international competition after Russia said it could leave Uefa and seek membership with Asia’s confederation.

European football’s governing body, Uefa, banned Moscow from competition after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February.

But a meeting of the RFU’s executive committee on Friday voted against the switch to Asia for now.

“We are indeed considering the option of returning to Uefa competitions as soon as possible,” said RFU president Alexander Dyukov. “It is important for us to take part in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.”

The RFU was proposing the establishment of a group to conduct consultations with Uefa in an effort to resume ties, said Dyukov.

But he also did not rule out that Russia could seek membership with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) at a later stage.

As part of the Uefa ban, Russia has been excluded from the qualifying draw for Euro 2024 and will not take part in qualifying matches which start in March.

Russia has also been banned from international football competitions by Fifa, barring it from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that ended with a victory for Argentina.

The Russian women’s side were also replaced by Portugal in the European Championship, which was won by hosts England in July.

The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has turned down Russia’s appeals to overturn the Fifa and Uefa bans.

The decision to leave Uefa and join AFC would have a share of consequences – primarily financial ones – for Russian clubs, especially those previously involved in top-tier European competitions, such as the Champions League.

CSKA Moscow president Yevgeny Giner warned in a recent interview with the daily Sport-Express that “we need to take into account the enormous difference in the financial component” and the “status of potential international matches” as part of the Asian leagues.

“We will literally have to start from zero,” he said. “Therefore, perhaps we should wait for a return to big European football.” AFP

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