The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected an appeal from the Russian Football Union (FUR) for the court to temporarily overturn a ban imposed on the union earlier this month by soccer governing body FIFA, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Soon after the invasion in late February, FIFA took the decision (alongside European soccer’s UEFA), to ban Russian representative national teams and clubs from all international and club-based competitions under their auspices for the foreseeable future.
The FUR then launched an appeal against that decision – which is currently set to stop the Russian men’s national team from competing in the FIFA World Cup at the end of this year – which is still being deliberated by CAS.
The Russian body also launched an appeal for CAS to temporarily stay FIFA’s suspension while the main appeal is being held. This would have (it has now been turned down by CAS) entailed Russian teams being eligible to compete while the lengthy main appeal process is taking place, which could have lasted some considerable length of time.
CAS rejected a similar appeal by the FUR earlier this week, in relation to its UEFA suspension – which means that the women’s national team cannot compete at the European Championships later this year, and that Russian clubs cannot take part in the various UEFA pan-continental competitions.
FIFA and UEFA took the decision to ban Russian national teams and club sides from international and European competitions after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a recommendation for all sporting federations and governing bodies to follow this course of action, in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine which has so far turned over 3.5 million Ukrainians into refugees.
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In announcing today’s decision, CAS said it had “rejected the request … to stay … the execution of the FIFA Council’s decision to suspend all Russian teams and clubs from participation in its competitions until further notice.
“Accordingly, the challenged decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in FIFA competitions.
“The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions.”
FIFA and UEFA, in the immediate aftermath of the invasion on February 24, initially said that Russian national teams would be allowed to compete under the name of ‘Football Union of Russia’, as long as the national flag and anthem did not make an appearance at matches.
However, after the interjection from the IOC – and following substantial pressure from the countries Russia would have contested the FIFA World Cup playoffs against (Sweden, Czech Republic, and Poland) – the soccer bodies upgraded their decision to a full ban.
All three countries listed above had simply refused to face Russia in the playoffs, meaning FIFA and UEFA were left with little option but to apply a full ban.
In launching its appeals, the FUR said: “The FUR believes that FIFA and UEFA did not have a legal basis when deciding on the removal of Russian teams. It violated the fundamental rights of the FUR as a member of FIFA and UEFA, including the right to take part in competitions.
“In addition, the decision to withdraw the national team from qualification for the 2022 World Cup was made under pressure from direct rivals in the playoffs, which violated the principle of sports and the rules of fair play.
“The FUR was also not given the right to present its position, which violated the fundamental right to defense. In addition, when making decisions, FIFA and UEFA did not take into account other possible options for action, except for the complete exclusion of participants from the competition from Russia.”
The FIFA appeal was filed against the world governing body itself, as well as UEFA and the respective soccer associations of Sweden, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, and Malta.
The UEFA appeal was filed against the continental body, as well as the Greek, Danish, Belarusian, Luxembourgish, Austrian, Maltese, Portuguese, English, Spanish, Irish, and French soccer associations.
The suspensions of Russian teams by FIFA and UEFA has been mirrored by almost all sporting federations, prompted in part by the IOC's advisory.