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Russian to stick with UEFA, votes against switch to AFC

Moscow: The Russian Football Union (RFU) has voted against switching its football federation membership to Asia from Europe, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday, opting to stay in the European fold as Moscow eyes progress in relations with UEFA.

Global and European football’s governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, decided in February 2022 that all Russian teams, whether national or club sides, would be suspended from participation in their competitions after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia was considering joining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), RFU head Alexander Dyukov said late last year.

“The question (of moving to the AFC) was discussed. We unanimously voted against as there are no guarantees from FIFA,” the RIA news agency quoted RFU committee member Mikhail Gershkovich as saying on Wednesday. “We’ve decided to continue contacts with UEFA, especially as there’s progress.

“Let’s see how the situation develops next year.”

FIFA and UEFA have shown signs of relaxing restrictions on Russian youth teams in recent months.

UEFA in September said “children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults”, but later abandoned a plan to reinstate Russia’s Under-17 sides to European competition.

FIFA in October did opt to lift Russia’s ban from international football by allowing Under-17 girls and boys teams from the country to take part in tournaments.

That move was conditional on those teams playing under the name of the ‘Football Union of Russia’ rather than Russia, and playing in neutral colours, without their national flag, national anthem, national-team kit and equipment, FIFA said at the time.

(Published 20 December 2023, 13:29 IST)

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