The Russian Football Union (RFU) will “fight” for its membership in European football’s governing body, according to a top sports official. The Russian national team and clubs were banished to the periphery of the sport due to sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA in the wake of Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia’s football authorities were considering a switch to the 47-member Asian Football Confederation (AFC), but on Wednesday the RFU said it had voted against the move.
“We decided that we will not move to Asia, everyone supported the decision unanimously,” the union’s vice president Akhmed Aydamirov told TASS.
“We will fight for Europe. Russia is Europe. We will win,” he stated. Another executive committee member, Mikhail Gershkovich, confirmed that the decision was unanimous, claiming there was some “progress” in negotiations with UEFA.
Since the start of the sanctions, Russia’s national football team has only played rare friendly matches. Moscow was banned from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and has also been suspended from qualification for the 2024 European Championships. Seeking qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico is the RFU’s “main task,” the union’s president said earlier this year.
The international football governing bodies have previously hinted at a potential relaxation of the restrictions on Russian football. In October, FIFA said it would lift its suspension on Russian under-17 girls’ and boys’ teams, if they agree to ditch national symbols and compete under the name of the ‘Football Union of Russia’. However, UEFA refused to let Russian teens play, even after admitting that “children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults.”
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