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In a official statement on Tuesday 26th September, UEFA have announced the reinstatement of two Russian sides in international football during the course of this season. The decision was taken by the Executive Committee in regards to the Russia U17s boys and girls teams.
The readmission of Russia’s U17s teams was a result of UEFA’s belief that minors should not suffer the same punishment as the adult teams. UEFA President Alexander Čeferin said “By banning children from our competitions, we not only fail to recognise and uphold a fundamental right for their holistic development but we directly discriminate against them.”
Russia were suspended from all FIFA and UEFA competitions, both club and international, in February 2022 following a recommendation from the IOC. Although Russia appealed to CAS, this ban was uphold and they would not be given the chance to participate until Russia’s conflict with Ukraine finished.
He added that this decision was taken with the hope that there “will be a brighter and more capable future generation and a better tomorrow.”
Will Russia U17s be allowed to play in European Qualifiers?
The draw for the 2024 UEFA European Under-17 Qualifiers was made in December 2022 with Russia already banned from competition. With games starting as early as tomorrow, Sweden vs Moldova and Latvia vs Poland, it seems improbable that Russia could compete.
However, in today’s statement the UEFA Executive Committee said it “has decided that Russian teams of minor players will be readmitted to its competitions in the course of this season.” It also clarified that they were looking for a “technical solution…even when draws have already been held”, opening the door for Russia U17s to compete in qualifiers.
Similarly the draw for the Women’s Under-17s Qualifiers have already been made, but notably Group B6 currently only has three teams. Estonia, Moldova and group hosts Turkey, it could mean Russia U17s women’s team feature in that group which begins in early October.
What are the conditions of the reinstatement?
UEFA have confirmed that no games will be allowed to be played on Russia soil, and also the Russian teams will not be allowed to wear their national kit. No Russian flags will be displayed nor the national anthem played.
This is similar to the approach taken by the IOC at the forthcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, which will permit athletes that hold a Russian or Belarusian passport to participate but only as individual, neutral athletes.
Will Russian clubs or other Russian national teams be allowed to compete?
UEFA was emphatic that they will not allow any adult Russian sides to compete despite today’s decision. The governing body of European football “reiterated its condemnation of Russia’s illegal war and confirmed the suspension of other teams in Russia (clubs and national teams) will remain in force until the end of the conflict in Ukraine.”
The Russian Premier League has continued to operate, but at present there is no possible qualification to the UEFA Champions League or other UEFA competitions for the winners and best placed sides.
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