Russia Banned From Euro 2024 Qualifying Draw

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Russia will not take part in the draw for qualifying for Euro 2024, UEFA and the country’s football federation confirmed on Tuesday.

The Russian national team and Russian clubs were banned from international competitions earlier this year by UEFA following the invasion of Ukraine.

“All Russian teams are currently suspended following the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee of 28 February 2022 which has further been confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 15 July 2022,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

“Russia is therefore not included in the UEFA European Football Championship 2022-24 qualifying draw.”

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Russia saw an appeal against the ban rejected by CAS in July.

“The Union is currently awaiting for the full text of the CAS decision, following the study of which a decision will be made on further steps,” the Russian Football Union said.

Russia were also banned from the upcoming World Cup in Qatar by FIFA.

The team had originally qualified for the European qualifying play-offs.

The Russian women’s side were also kicked out of this year’s Euro in England, with their place taken by Portugal.

The 2024 European Championship will be hosted by Germany, with the qualifying draw set for October 9 in Frankfurt.

Germany’s interior minister has also asked for Belarus to be banned from the tournament due to the country’s backing of Russia.

AFP

Potter Gets Early Introduction To Issues He Faces At Chelsea

Chelsea’s English head coach Graham Potter reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between England’s Chelsea and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg at Stamford Bridge in London on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

Graham Potter got an early indication of the reasons Thomas Tuchel was sacked as Chelsea were held 1-1 by Red Bull Salzburg in the English coach’s debut in the Champions League.

The Blues have just one point from their opening two games in Group E and Potter has little time to settle in ahead of a crucial double-header against AC Milan next month.

However, Potter does have 16 days before Chelsea play again to get his ideas across after their match with Liverpool this weekend was postponed due to policing arrangements around Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London.

AFP Sport looks at the issues at Stamford Bridge that Potter must find answers to.

READ ALSOHaaland Haunts Dortmund As Man City Come From Behind

Score more goals

Even in the heyday of the Tuchel era when Chelsea won the Champions League in 2021, goals were not free-flowing.

In eight games this season, the Blues have scored just nine times.

Raheem Sterling has four of them, including the first goal of Potter’s reign, as the England international has quickly delivered on his £50 million ($58 million) move from Manchester City.

But Chelsea need Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to do likewise despite the shock of seeing his reunion with Tuchel last just one game.

The former Arsenal captain was replaced just after the hour mark on Wednesday by Armando Broja, who impressed during a loan spell at Southampton last season.

But Broja, who was handed a new six-year contract earlier this month, is yet to score a goal at senior level for Chelsea.

Potter will also need the quartet of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic to start bearing some of the goalscoring burden.

However, there is some concern for Chelsea fans that Potter’s time at Brighton was often littered with impressive performances that lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.

Settle on right defence

The difference between Tuchel’s early success and difficult last few months was Chelsea’s declining defensive record.

The club’s new owners cannot be accused of not throwing money at the problem with £165 million spent on defenders during the transfer window.

But Potter left over £100 million worth of centre-backs on the bench against Salzburg as Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly were dropped in favour of a centre-back pairing with a combined age of 70 in Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Both were at fault for Salzburg’s late equaliser and Potter must settle on a system as well as the personnel.

Tuchel used a back three and the squad seems built for that formation with an abundance of centre-back and wing-back options.

Potter, though, started with a back four on his first night in charge, which also limited the threat of Reece James and Marc Cucurella from full-back.

Use Kante wisely

Arguably the biggest factor in Chelsea’s decline under Tuchel was N’Golo Kante’s ongoing fitness problems.

The French midfielder won man of the match in both Champions League semi-finals and the final in 2021 against Real Madrid and Manchester City, providing the perfect screen that an exceptional defensive record was built on.

In Kante’s only two games this season, Chelsea won at Everton and were leading Tottenham before he limped off with a muscle injury and Spurs snatched a late equaliser.

But injury issues are nothing new for the 31-year-old, who will also be key for France’s chances of retaining the World Cup later this year.

“He is our Mo Salah, he is our (Virgil) Van Dijk, he is our (Kevin) De Bruyne, he is simply that player,” Tuchel said in May.

“He is our Neymar, he is our Kylian Mbappe; he is the guy who makes the difference. And if you only have him 40 per cent (of the time) it’s a huge problem.”

Kante is closing in on a return and could be fit by the time Chelsea take the field again.

But Potter faces the awkward balance of managing his minutes during an exhausting schedule for the rest of the season to prevent more prolonged periods on the sidelines.

AFP

Benzema, Putellas Win UEFA Player Of The Year Prizes

Barcelona’s Spanish forward Alexia Putellas holding her “UEFA Women’s Best Player of the Year 2021/2022 Award” talks with Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema holding his “UEFA Men’s Best Player of the Year 2021/2022 Award”, on stage in Istanbul on August 25, 2022, after the 2022/2023 Champions League group stage draw. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

 

Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas were rewarded for outstanding seasons by winning the UEFA men’s and women’s player of the year prizes at a ceremony in Istanbul on Thursday.

France striker Benzema captained Real Madrid to victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final and scored 15 goals in the competition, while Putellas was the top scorer in the Women’s Champions League, helping Barcelona reach the final which they lost to Lyon.

Benzema took the men’s honours ahead of club team-mate Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, succeeding Chelsea midfielder Jorginho who won the award last year.

READ ALSO: [FULL LIST] Bayern To Play Barcelona In Champions League, Liverpool Face Ajax

The 34-year-old scored hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the Champions League knockout rounds and netted three times across the two legs of the semi-final against Manchester City.

He struck 44 times in 46 games altogether as Real also won the Spanish title.

Putellas, 28, claimed the prize for a second straight year despite suffering a serious knee injury that ruled her out of Euro 2022.

She finished ahead of England forward and European champion Beth Mead, the joint leading scorer at the tournament, and young Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf.

Carlo Ancelotti was named best men’s coach for his success with Real, with Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman crowned best women’s coach after leading England to Euro glory on home soil last month.

AFP

FULL LIST: Bayern To Play Barcelona In Champions League, Liverpool Face Ajax

In this file photo, the UEFA Champions League trophy is displayed prior to the start of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Bayern Munich were placed in the same section as Robert Lewandowski’s Barcelona in Thursday’s draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage in Istanbul, while Erling Haaland will face his former club as Manchester City were paired with Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern and Barcelona will also come up against Inter Milan in Group C, which is completed by the Czech champions Viktoria Plzen.

Bayern beat Barcelona 8-2 in a one-off quarter-final in Lisbon in 2020, while the Catalans also lost 3-0 twice to the Germans last season as they were eliminated in the group stage.

Lewandowski, 34, signed for Barcelona during the close season for a fee that could reach 50 million euros ($49.9m) after scoring 344 goals in eight years at Bayern.

“Only football writes such stories,” said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

“Barcelona have got stronger. ‘Lewy’ is there. They’ve done a thing or two in the transfer market. There will be some exciting games.”

Haaland left Dortmund for Premier League champions City in the close season. Those sides will also face Sevilla and Danish champions FC Copenhagen in Group G.

City and Dortmund last met in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2021, with Pep Guardiola’s side advancing 4-2 on aggregate. City also beat Sevilla twice in the group stage in 2015/16.

 Liverpool Face Rangers

Last season’s beaten finalists Liverpool will play Ajax, Napoli and Rangers in Group A, while reigning champions Real Madrid will face Celtic as well as RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group F.

It is the third season running in which Real and Shakhtar have been placed in the same group.

With war continuing to rage in Ukraine, Shakhtar will play their home games in the Polish capital Warsaw.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side faced Ajax in the group stage just two years ago, while the Anfield outfit came up against Napoli in 2019.

Meanwhile, Rangers are back in the group phase of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in 12 years — in the 2010/11 season they held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford but in 2012 they were demoted to the Scottish fourth tier when mounting debts forced them into liquidation.

After reaching last season’s Europa League final, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side knocked out PSV Eindhoven in the play-offs on Wednesday to reach the group stage.

“The first thing to say is this is a proper, proper challenge,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

“We did not ask for any favours and we have not been given any but this is not a competition where you can look for easy ways through because the standard is always unbelievably high.”

PSG Among Favourites, Again

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain — who again start among the favourites to win a trophy that has continued to escape them since the Qatari takeover of more than a decade ago — will meet Juventus as well as Benfica and Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa in Group H.

Chelsea, winners in 2021, will take on Serie A champions AC Milan as well as Red Bull Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb in Group E, while Tottenham Hotspur will face last season’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt along with Sporting Lisbon and Marseille in Group D.

Porto and Atletico Madrid meet for the second season running in Group B, which also features Bayer Leverkusen and Belgian champions Club Brugge.

This season’s group stage will begin with the first round of games on September 6 and 7.

The match calendar is expected to be released following the draws on Friday for the group stages of the Europa League and Europa Conference League.

All six matchdays will be played in the space of nine weeks, finishing much earlier than usual on November 1 and 2, with UEFA needing to complete the group stage before the World Cup begins on November 20.

The final will be played on June 10 next year at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, which was supposed to host the final in 2020 and again in 2021 — on each occasion, UEFA moved the game to Portugal due to pandemic-related restrictions.

See the full features below: 

The draw for the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League group stage, made in Istanbul on Thursday:Group A: Ajax (NED), Liverpool (ENG), Napoli (ITA), Rangers (SCO)Group B: FC Porto (POR), Atletico Madrid (ESP), Bayer Leverkusen (GER), Club Brugge (BEL)

Group C: Bayern Munich (GER), Barcelona (ESP), Inter Milan (ITA), Viktoria Plzen (CZE)

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt (GER), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Sporting (POR), Marseille (FRA)

Group E: AC Milan (ITA), Chelsea (ENG), Red Bull Salzburg (AUT), Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Group F: Real Madrid (ESP), RB Leipzig (GER), Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR), Celtic (SCO)

Group G: Manchester City (ENG), Sevilla (ESP), Borussia Dortmund (GER), FC Copenhagen (DEN)

Group H: Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Juventus (ITA), Benfica (POR), Maccabi Haifa (ISR)

Dates:

Matchday 1: September 6-7

Matchday 2: September 13-14

Matchday 3: October 4-5

Matchday 4: October 11-12

Matchday 5: October 25-26

Matchday 6: November 1-2

AFP

 

Real Madrid Beat Eintracht Frankfurt To Win UEFA Super Cup

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema (2nd L) celebrates scoring the 2-0 goal with his team-mates during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, on August 10, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

While Frankfurt were dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid’s experience and individual quality saw them through, as it did so often in their victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.

Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.

Madrid almost got their first, when Benzema released Vinicius to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.

With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counter-attacks until Madrid launched a counter of their own in the 37th minute.

A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.

From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.

The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.

After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have gone 2-0 up, with Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide with the goal begging in the 41st minute.

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Vinicius, Benzema Connect 

Madrid’s quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.

Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.

Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid were able to dominate the game to win their fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.

The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960 when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final.

The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years.

Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition.

In the 10 years before, Champions League and Europa League participants won five Super Cups each.

Frankfurt joined Hamburg (1977 and 1983), Dortmund (1997), and Bremen (1992) as losing Super Cup finalists from Germany, with only Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) having won the showpiece event.

AFP

UEFA Consider New Four-Team Mini-Tournament For Start Of Season

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin arrives to address a press conference following an UEFA executive meeting on April 7, 2022 in Nyon, as UEFA is expected to adopt an overhaul of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system introduced in 2010 to stop clubs piling up debts in their pursuit of trophies. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

UEFA are considering introducing a four-team mini-tournament at the start of each season, just before the Champions League group phase begins, European football’s governing body confirmed on Tuesday.

French sports daily L’Equipe reported that UEFA were weighing up the idea of a competition involving the winners of the previous season’s Champions League along with three other leading clubs.

L’Equipe reported that the idea was included in the invitation to tender for the broadcast rights for the new, expanded Champions League from 2024 to 2027.

When contacted by AFP, UEFA said “it is an idea mentioned in the call for bids, but nothing is decided”.

A source with knowledge of the proposal said the mini-tournament would not necessarily mean more games.

The Champions League group stage is being expanded from the 2024/25 season to feature 36 clubs, up from the current 32.

They will all be together in one pool with each team playing eight matches, all against different opponents, compared to eight groups of four teams playing six matches each at present.

Last month UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP that talks had taken place about transforming the UEFA Super Cup to make it a four-team competition rather than the current one-off match between the Champions League winners and Europa League winners.

“That is a possibility, for sure. Now, who will play exactly we cannot tell for sure yet,” Ceferin said.

“This is one of the ideas that we will do something more with that at the beginning of the season, or before the start of the season.”

Real Madrid will play Eintracht Frankfurt in this year’s Super Cup in Helsinki on August 10.

UEFA To Investigate Champions League Final Chaos

Liverpool FC's supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP
Liverpool FC’s supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid.
Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

 

UEFA announced on Monday it was opening an “independent report” into the security chaos before the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

European football’s governing body said the report would “examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final”.

UEFA have appointed Portuguese politician Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to oversee the report on a pro bono basis on the completion of which they will decide upon a course of action.

READ ALSO: Kano Pillars Extend Unbeaten Run At Handball Premier League

“Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties,” UEFA said.

“The findings of the independent report will be made public,” it promised.

Brandao Rodrigues has served as Portuguese Minister of Education, was a member of the World Anti-doping Agency and was Portugal’s Olympic attaché during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

France on Monday blamed “massive” ticket fraud for the chaotic scenes that marred the Champions League final on Saturday which saw Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0.

But the French government has faced a barrage of criticism from press and politicians in Britain over the policing of the match.

Three Things We Learned From Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

 

Real Madrid produced another barely believable Champions League fightback to beat Manchester City 3-1 after extra time on Wednesday and reach the final 6-5 on aggregate.

The Spanish champions will take on Liverpool in Paris on May 28 in a repeat of the 1981 and 2018 finals.

AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from a classic semi-final.

City’s Champions League pain goes onPep Guardiola’s reign in Manchester is four games away from delivering four Premier League titles in the past five years.

But the one trophy they really want remains elusive as another shot at the Champions League spectacularly blew up in their faces.

It is now 11 years since Guardiola last lifted Europe’s biggest prize as Barcelona boss.

 

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. – Real Madrid won the match 3-1. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

The defensive frailties and fragile mentality of his early seasons at City in this competition seemed to have been washed away by a run to the club’s first ever final last season.

For 89 minutes, they looked like a side maturing under the intense spotlight the latter stages of the Champions League provides.

But that will only make this collapse hurt all the more.

City will look back on the chances wasted to kill off the Spanish giants in both legs as four times they let a two-goal advantage in the tie slip away.

Now they have to rouse themselves quickly to prevent that pain being compounded by also seeing Liverpool snatch away the Premier League title.

Madrid young guns lead the old guard of Karim Benzema and Luka Modric got most of the credit for Real’s revivals to beat Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea just to make it to the last four.

 

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

However, the introduction of Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga also helped swing those second legs at a bouncing Bernabeu in the home side’s favour.

Rodrygo had scored two goals all season until taking the Chelsea tie to extra time last month.

With City leading 1-0 on the night thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s strike and 5-3 on aggregate, the Brazilian transformed the tie by scoring twice in 88 seconds as the game entered stoppage time.

Camavinga’s powerful run beyond the tiring legs of the City midfield then set up the winner as Benzema lured Ruben Dias into a mistimed challenge in the box.

Carlo Ancelotti has consistently kept faith with his veterans all season.

But there are only so many times the Italian can be rescued by his young guns off the bench.

 

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo celebrates with teammates after the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

Camavinga and Rodrygo are entitled to believe they deserve to start against Liverpool.

Money can’t buy Madrid’s mentality

The tradition of the 13-time European champions has not stopped Madrid from being the biggest supporters of a breakaway Super League.

Behind their reasoning has been a fear that they can no longer compete financially for the world’s best players up against the state-backed wealth of PSG and City, or even billionaire-backed clubs like Chelsea have been under Roman Abramovich.

However, they have eliminated all three in a remarkable run to their 17th European Cup final.

 

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema celebrates at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

“We are the kings of Europe” reverberated around the Bernabeu once Benzema slotted home the crucial penalty.

For all the billions thrown at this competition by PSG and City, they remain without a European Cup between them.

The Madrid tradition of success is something money can’t buy.

Russian Clubs Banned From 2022/23 Champions League – UEFA

A file photo of the UEFA Champions League trophy.

 

Russian clubs have been banned by UEFA from participating in the Champions League and all other European competitions next season, European football’s governing body announced on Monday.

“Russia will have no affiliated clubs participating in UEFA club competitions in the 2022/23 season,” it said in a statement.

Russian clubs and national teams were suspended “until further notice” by UEFA in February in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

READ ALSO: Russia Does Not Plan to End Ukraine War By May 9, Says Kremlin

The Russian team’s exclusion from the Women’s European Championship to take place in England in July was also confirmed Monday with Portugal taking its place.

 

AFP

UEFA Adopts New Regulations To Replace Financial Fair Play

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin arrives to address a press conference following an UEFA executive meeting on April 7, 2022 in Nyon, as UEFA is expected to adopt an overhaul of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system introduced in 2010 to stop clubs piling up debts in their pursuit of trophies. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

UEFA on Thursday approved new licensing regulations to replace its existing Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, allowing European clubs to make bigger losses than before but limiting spending on wages and transfers.

As expected, European football’s governing body decided to overhaul the FFP rules that were introduced in 2010 in order to reduce spiralling debts among clubs across the continent.

FFP’s limitations had been exposed by the emergence of state-held superpowers like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

“The biggest innovation will be the introduction of a squad cost rule to bring better cost control in relation to player wages and transfer costs,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced at a press conference in Nyon, Switzerland following a meeting of the body’s executive committee.

UEFA will now allow clubs to report losses of 60 million euros ($65.5m) over three years rather than 30 million euros previously, and the permitted figure will even reach 90 million euros for a club “in good financial health”.

However, that relaxation of the rules is combined with the new ceilings on wage spending.

There was never any possibility of bringing in a specific salary cap like those used in North American sports because UEFA has 55 member countries with well over 1,000 clubs and must contend with European Union and national labour and competition laws.

Yet under UEFA’s new regulations clubs will be forced to limit spending on player and staff wages, transfers and agents fees to 70 percent of total revenues by the 2025/26 season.

The ceiling will drop as current contracts expire: 90 percent of club income in 2023/24, followed by 80 percent the season after and then to 70 percent.

“Breaches will result in predefined financial penalties and sporting measures,” said Ceferin.

Clubs who break the rules could be hit with transfer bans, loan restrictions, demotions from one European competition to another and points deductions in the Champions League.

Russia Expelled From World Cup As FIFA, UEFA Hand Down Bans

FILE PHOTO: The Adidas Telstar 18, the official ball of the tournament is seen during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Serbia and Brazil at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 27, 2018. PHOTO: YURI CORTEZ / AFP

 

Russia has been expelled from the World Cup after being suspended from all international competitions “until further notice”, FIFA and UEFA announced in a joint statement on Monday, while European football’s governing body also ended its partnership with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The men’s team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

“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,” read the joint statement from the governing bodies of world and European football.

READ ALSO: US Expels 12 Russian UN Staff For ‘Espionage Activities’

The Russian men’s team were scheduled to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and might have faced Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals in Qatar later this year.

But their three potential opponents insisted they would boycott the matches.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.

But those measures were dismissed as “totally unacceptable” by Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who added that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off with Russia, “no matter what the name of the team is.”

FIFA changed its approach on Monday, kicking Russia out of the sport’s showpiece tournament.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement added.

“Both presidents (Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin) 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.”

 

 

– Russia decries ‘discriminatory’ decision –

The Russian Football Union denounced the suspension, saying the move was “discriminatory”.

“It has an obvious discriminatory character and harms a huge number of athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organisations must protect in the first place,” it said in a statement.

The decisions come after a widespread outcry, with global players’ union FIFPro on Monday releasing a statement saying it “strongly disagreed” with the initial measures taken by FIFA.

FIFPro criticised FIFA for not imposing stronger sanctions right away and said that participation of Russian teams in international competitions was now “not a possibility”.

With other nations also coming out to say they would not play against Russia, FIFA and UEFA were left with little choice.

FIFA had to act quickly before the upcoming World Cup play-offs and with the draw for the tournament due to be held in Doha on April 1.

Russia were supposed to play the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland in their group at the women’s Euro in England in July.

“This is a powerful message from the international sporting community that we will not tolerate Putin’s abhorrent assaults on freedom and liberty. Well done FIFA and UEFA” tweeted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

 

 

– UEFA ends Gazprom deal –

Meanwhile Spartak Moscow were scheduled to play RB Leipzig of Germany in the last 16 of the Europa League.

They were the only remaining Russian team in European competition this season.

“Even though we are of the opinion that sport fundamentally unites, we understand and support this decision,” said Leipzig, who, UEFA told AFP, have received a bye into the quarter-finals.

FIFA, though, did not confirm if Poland would qualify directly for the final of their World Cup play-off path.

UEFA said it had ended its partnership with Gazprom, one of its main sponsors, “effective immediately”.

Gazprom has been a key sponsor of UEFA since 2012 and was believed to have been paying around 40 million euros ($45 million) a year in a deal due to run until 2024.

Russian football federation president Alexander Dyukov, boss of Gazprom Neft, the petrol branch of Gazprom, is a member of the UEFA’s executive committee.

German club Schalke 04 also announced Monday it had prematurely ended its shirt sponsorship deal with Gazprom.

UEFA last week stripped the Russian city of Saint Petersburg of this season’s Champions League final, moving the game on May 28 to Paris.

AFP

FIFA, UEFA Expel Russia From All International Football Competitions

This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football's governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP
This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football’s governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Russia has been expelled from the 2022 World Cup and its teams suspended from all international football competitions “until further notice” after its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA announced in a joint statement with UEFA on Monday.

The men’s team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

“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’s global and European governing bodies said.

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Russia were due to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and could have gone on to face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals.

But their three potential opponents insisted they would boycott the matches.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.

But those measures were dismissed as “totally unacceptable” by Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who added that Poland would not play their World Cup play-off with Russia, “no matter what the name of the team is.”

FIFA changed its approach on Monday, kicking Russia out of the sport’s showpiece tournament.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement added.

“Both presidents (Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin) 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.”

Russia were due to play the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland in their group at the women’s Euro.

Spartak Moscow had been due to face RB Leipzig of Germany in the Europa League last 16 next month.