The Russian football federation (FUR) was banned from participating in the qualifying draws for the EURO 2024, to be held in Germany, by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the apex body of European football.
FUR was banned from participating in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off draws as well. Russia was kept out of football's most coveted tournament, set to be held in Qatar from November 20, in light of its invasion of Ukraine.
Along with this, Russian clubs have been prohibited from participating in international matches, including the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and the Conference League. Here's a look at what led to the Russian Football Federation being banned by UEFA, FIFA and all the other international governing bodies in football.
Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine
Russia launched the invasion of mainland Ukraine on February 24. Following the attack, FIFA and UEFA condemned the attacks and ordered an immediate suspension of Russian national teams (both men and women) and Russian football clubs from all competitions.
Standing in solidarity with Ukraine, both FIFA and UEFA hoped for the situation to improve. The Executive Committee of UEFA made the initial decision. The Bureau of the FIFA Council agreed and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the decision on July 15.
What Does The Ban Mean For Russia
The decision means the Russian national football team (both men's and women's) cannot participate in international friendlies or tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA EURO and UEFA Nations League.
At the club football level, Russian football clubs like Zenit, CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Dynamo Moscow are banned from participating in events like the coveted UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Conference League.
The immediate ban took a toll on Russian football as the women's national team was barred from participating in the UEFA Women's EURO (European Championship), getting replaced by Portugal. Hosts England went on to win the title at Wembley Stadium.
The Russian men's football team were removed from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after the ban removed the team from March's qualifiers, thus confirming their removal from the tournament.
Russia's ban in the footballing world also meant UEFA ending its lucrative sponsorship deal with Gazprom, the Russian energy giant. The ban also led to the 2022 Champions League final getting shifted to Paris. The final was initially set to be played in St. Petersburg.
What Are The Qualifying Draws
In football, countries are represented by national footballing bodies in qualifiers and tournament finals. To qualify for a tournament like the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA EURO Cup, the national football teams are divided into different groups.
These groups usually consist of five to six teams per group. In each group, the drawn teams go through a round-robin system with the top team ensuring their qualification for the event. National teams aim for ending at the top to confirm their slot for the event.
UEFA's ban on Russia from EURO 2024 qualifying draws means that the Russian football team are prohibited from participating in the matches that are part of the group round-robin system where the five-six teams, drawn in a particular group will face each other and try to get the maximum number of points. More points mean higher chances of qualifying.
By not being able to take part in the qualifying draws, Russia gets automatically eliminated from the playoffs, thus stopping them from participating in the mega-events.
As a result, the Russian football federation appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport back on July 15. But the CAS dismissed Russia's appeal and upheld the decision taken by UEFA and FIFA.
How Are Teams Going To Qualify For EURO 2024
For the EURO 2024 qualification, UEFA will draw the teams in an event taking place on October 9 in Frankfurt, Germany. A total of 53 teams will take part in the draw.
These 53 teams, representing 53 nations in and around Europe would be divided into 10 groups. Out of the 10 groups, seven groups would consist of five teams. The remaining three groups would include six teams.
To ensure their qualification, teams in each group will be facing members from the same drawn group and aim to end on a high note to secure their seats for EURO 2024.
Germany has already qualified for EURO 2024 as the host of the tournament. Italy has also qualified for the tournament as the defending champions of the EURO 2020 where they defeated England on penalties in the final at Wembley Stadium, London.
Russia's ban by UEFA means that Russia would not be included in any of the groups, thus keeping the team out of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Russia's military ally Belarus has received approval from UEFA to participate in the EURO qualifying draws, despite requests from the German government.
But Belarus would not be drawn into the same group as Ukraine due to security reasons.
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