‘No grounds’ to boot Russia out of FIFA as decision looms – official




FIFA is preparing for its Congress. © Getty Images

FIFA would have no justification to expel or suspend the Russian Football Union (RFU) from its membership, local dignitary Alexey Sorokin has said, as the world football governing body prepares for a major congress on Thursday.

Russian and Belarusian teams were suspended from all FIFA and UEFA competitions in February following Moscow’s decision to launch a military offensive in Ukraine.

FIFA is holding its 72nd Congress this week in Doha, the capital of World Cup host nation Qatar, with the official agenda listing the “suspension or expulsion of a member association” as among the items for discussion.

Russian football figure Sorokin, who was on the local organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup, has said he sees no logic behind FIFA potentially taking further action against the country.

“I see no grounds for depriving or suspending the RFU membership in FIFA,” Sorokin told Match TV.

“It’s clear that this is a difficult time, but there is a FIFA charter and procedures…

“In terms of state intervention in the affairs of the RFU, nothing has changed in our country – there has never been this before, and there isn’t this [now]. 

“So there are no signs for the RFU to be deprived of its membership. In any case, we need to communicate with international federations and build relationships.”

Among the punishments dished out to Russia by the football authorities was the decision to strip St. Petersburg of the UEFA Champions League final.

The city was due to hold the club football showpiece on May 28, but it has been relocated to the Stade de France in Paris.

Sorokin reiterated recent comments that he expects Russia to be compensated by UEFA for the costs that had been incurred in preparing for the event.

“In accordance with our agreement with UEFA, we will receive compensation, some expenses incurred will be paid,” Sorokin said.

“All this is in accordance with the agreements that continue to operate. We don’t comment on the financial side, [but] for some people this amount is large, for others it’s small. 

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“When terminating such contracts, [compensation] is always provided. I have no doubt that all parties will fulfill their obligations.”

Russia surprised many people last week by submitting a formal declaration of interest in hosting the UEFA European Championship in either 2028 or 2032, putting itself in the running against bids from the UK-Ireland and Turkey for the former edition of the tournament, and Italy and Turkey for the latter edition.

Russia’s statement of intent has led to the likes of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming it would be unthinkable for the country to be granted the right to host the tournament.

However, Russian football figures have stressed their commitment to continued cooperation with international organizations, noting their belief that the situation will improve and that sport should not be dictated by political pressures.

Sorokin hoped that UEFA would include Russia in the list of formal bidders when it is announced in early April.

“Now is the time of unexpectedness and surprises in our relations with the outside world, anything could happen,” he told Match TV.