A decision on this matter could be reached during today’s FIFA Council meeting, with a particular focus on allowing Russian teams to participate in the Under-17 World Cup, provided they qualify.
The ban has been in effect since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and was initially implemented as a gesture of ‘full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine’,”= according to FIFA.
However, FIFA now appears to be considering a different stance, influenced by recent changes in the position of European football’s governing body, UEFA.
Last week, UEFA decided to lift its complete ban on Russian international teams, albeit under certain conditions.
Russian teams were permitted to compete in the U17 European Championship qualifying matches but were prohibited from displaying their national symbols, including their flag and anthem.
It is worth noting that qualification for the U17 World Cup is based on performance in UEFA events, a factor that lends weight to FIFA’s potential decision to reinstate Russia.
A FIFA decision would come too late for the men’s U17s World Cup scheduled for November, but it could affect Russia’s eligibility for the women’s event next year.
The prospect of FIFA easing the ban has triggered divisions within Europe, with England threatening to boycott matches against Russian teams and Ukraine calling on the continent to stand with their opposition.
However, UEFA has privately pointed out that Ukraine’s government permits its athletes to compete against Russians as neutrals.
Russia has continued to engage in international friendlies since February 2022. However, they have been barred from participating in tournaments and qualifying competitions.
This effectively prevented them from pursuing qualification for the 2022 men’s World Cup and the 2023 women’s event.
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