Western football bodies gang up on Russia




FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Russian President Vladimir Putin

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Russia’s request to freeze a FIFA ban on its soccer teams ahead of next week’s World Cup qualifying playoffs was denied Friday.

FIFA said the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the Russian soccer federation’s bid for an urgent interim ruling to freeze the ban pending a full appeal, which could come within weeks.

The CAS decision means Russia will not be able to play Poland in World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

The latest ruling follows a similar CAS refusal on Tuesday to freeze UEFA’s ban on Russian national and club teams in European soccer.

Russian athletes have been banned from competing in multiple sports because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian athletes have also been banned because their country has been an ally of Russia.

The Russian soccer federation could still get the FIFA ban overturned before another round of international games in early June. A Russian victory at CAS could then force this month’s playoffs to be replayed.

Ukraine is also in the World Cup playoffs, and its scheduled game on Thursday against Scotland was postponed by FIFA until June. Ukraine or Scotland will advance to face either Wales or Austria — who play in Cardiff next week — with a place at this year’s World Cup in Qatar at stake.

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