FIFA expels Russia from World Cup, suspends all Russian teams

FIFA seemed to have buckled under the pressure of football associations and fans calling for a complete ban on the Russian national team.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with FIFA President Gianni Infantino after decorating him with the Order of Friendship during an awarding ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 23, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with FIFA President Gianni Infantino after decorating him with the Order of Friendship during an awarding ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 23, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

International football governing body FIFA has expelled Russia from competing in the World Cup due to its invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, FIFA and European football's governing body UEFA have decided that all Russian teams will be suspended from European competitions such as the UEFA Champions League until further notice. UEFA and FIFA's decision means the only Russian club still in European competitions, Spartak Moscow, has been automatically eliminated from the UEFA Europa League.

This marks a drastic change from the light sanctions announced by FIFA on Sunday, as Ukrainian cities were blasted by Russian bombs.

FIFA stated that the national team will no longer be allowed to associate itself with the Russian flag and anthem and can only play using the name of its football federation, the Football Union of Russia (RFU).

In addition, Russia's national team will not be allowed to play any games on home soil, with home games set to be played in neutral venues. Stadiums in pro-Russia nations, such as Belarus and Serbia, have been brought up as alternatives.

FIFA's original decision to not suspend the Russian team immediately came under intense scrutiny by fans, footballers and football associations of other nations who have already announced a boycott of planned matches against the Russians. FIFA was also criticized for giving no mention to Belarus, which has openly aided Russia in the war.

 FIFA president Gianni Infantino and President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy (credit: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ/FILE PHOTO) FIFA president Gianni Infantino and President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy (credit: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ/FILE PHOTO)

Dozens of football associations across Europe, most notably the English, Polish, Irish and Czech, already announced they will not play any matches against the Russian national team prior to FIFA's statement.

Russia is scheduled to play in a World Cup Qualifying play-off in March against Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

However, it seems increasingly unlikely these matches will be played regardless of FIFA's decision, due to the football associations of the three countries all announcing a boycott of matches against Russia.

In European basketball, the EuroLeague has also announced a suspension of all three Russian teams playing in the competition (CSKA Moscow, UNICS Kazan and Zenit St. Petersburg) and one team playing in the EuroCup (Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar).