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Russia invited to play in Asian football tournament after UEFA and FIFA bans

Russia invited to play in Asian tournament after UEFA and FIFA ban

Russia have been invited to compete in the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA) Championship in June following their exile from European football, according to the Guardian.

The Russian national and club teams have been collateral damage from an inter-governmental dispute after receiving bans from European and international competitions since the start of the conflict with Ukraine in February last year.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) executives, including general secretary Maxim Mitrofanov and vice president Aleksandr Alaev, met with UEFA counterparts at the European football’s governing body’s headquarters in Switzerland in late January to resolve the case, but nothing materialised.

Russia have been cut off since the invasion began, with several countries refusing to play against them. In a letter to FIFA, backed by Sweden and the Czech Republic, Poland refused to play against Russia in a qualifier game ahead of the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar.

They then arranged a friendly match against Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of last year’s showpiece event, but their opponents withdrew from the contest after receiving widespread criticism.

As it stands, the Russian national team is not allowed to partake in the European Championship 2024 qualifiers set to kick off later this month.

The RFU met with UEFA late last year to discuss their resignation from European football, but even that idea was met with resistance.

However, the invitation from Cafa has handed the country a massive lifeline as they seek a return to international competition amid speculation that they could join the Asian football confederation (AFC).

The Tajikistan Football Federation (TFF) announced that Russia had been invited to CAFA’s inaugural men’s tournament set to take place between June 9-21 along with six other member nations – Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The TFF already confirmed that Russia had accepted the invitation, but the RFU debunked the news, claiming that they were still mulling over the conditions of their participation.

RFU president Alexander Dyukov has suggested that joining AFC is an option as it would allow the Russian national teams and clubs to compete.

The men’s team played friendlies against Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan last year and are scheduled to face Iran and Iraq this month.

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