Sport responds

Scotland await as Fifa finally acts on Ukraine crisis

Scotland v Israel
Scotland await a decision on Ukraine play-off (pic: SNS Group)

Football’s world governing body Fifa has surrendered to pressure to ban Russia from the World Cup and announced that all Russian teams will be kicked out of international competition.

Its move follows wide condemnation of its earlier decision to allow Russia to play under neutral colours in a neutral country.

Fifa and Uefa said Russia will not compete in next month’s World Cup play-off against Poland to try to secure a place at the finals in Qatar, and Russia’s women’s team will not take part in the women’s European Championship, which will be hosted by England in the summer.

Scotland are waiting to find out whether their World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine will go ahead as planned later this month.

Tickets for the game at Hampden on 24 March have sold out, but there are doubts as to whether the visiting side will be in a position to fulfil the fixture.

Spartak Moscow were removed from the Europa League. leaving RB Leipzig to advance to the quarter-finals, while UEFA also terminated a sponsorship deal worth £33.5million a year with Russian energy company Gazprom.

The Fifa-Uefa statement said: “Fifa and Uefa have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both Fifa and Uefa competitions until further notice.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

Poland will now contest the play-off final against the winner of Sweden and the Czech Republic, though the Russian Football Union may yet appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying in a statement: “We reserve the right to challenge the decision of Fifa and Uefa in accordance with international sports law.”

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Other sports are introducing bans on Russian athletes and teams. The International Tennis Federation’s board will decide whether that should apply to individual players. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev has just taken over as the world No 1 men’s player.

Formula One has cancelled the Russian Grand Prix planned for September and the World Motor Sport council will meet to discuss the crisis.

In boxing, the presidents of the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF issued a rare joint statement saying that they would not sanction any bouts in Russia until further notice. The president of the WBO has also suggested dropping all Russians from their rankings.

Swimming’s international federation, Fina, has cancelled four international events that were due to have taken place in Russia and is also meeting on Tuesday to react to the IOC’s statement.

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