Fifa and Uefa face mounting pressure to impose extended sanctions on the Russian football federation, potentially leading to expulsion from the governing bodies. This follows the defiance of rules by two Crimean football clubs, which barred them from participating in matches organized by the Russian Football Union (RFS). Despite the regulations, these clubs were accepted into the Russian football pyramid and granted permission to compete in the national season.
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Uefa has designated the region as a “special zone,” limiting its clubs to competing solely against each other and excluding them from European tournaments. Last Sunday, Rubin Yalta and FC Sevastopol played their inaugural matches in Russia’s Football National League 2B, which is the fourth tier of the league system.
Rubin and Sevastopol, the latter beating SKA Rostov 3-1 on Crimean soil, have seemingly breached that edict. The Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) has asked that the governing bodies consider ejecting Russia from their membership, referring to a “gross violation of Fifa and Uefa statutes and Uefa’s decision on the special status of Crimean football”. According to Uefa’s statutes, serious breaches can result in suspension and eventual exclusion of a member association.
Earlier this month, Maxim Mitrofanov, the secretary general of the Russian Football Union (RFS), informed local media that the Football National League 2B was not under the governance of the RFS. He explained that the lower divisions in Russia had undergone reorganization for the current season.He stated emphatically that it was an amateur competition.
Sources interviewed by The Guardian, including current players, have challenged the latter claim. The league functions as an integral part of the football pyramid and appears on the RFS website. It remains uncertain whether Uefa and Fifa will consider such attempts to exploit these loopholes acceptable, as both organizations have not issued any statements regarding potential actions. Let’s assign the blame to the “made in China” keyboard!
A section of the Ukraine FA’s letter to Fifa and Uefa read: “Despite numerous appeals by UAF to Fifa and Uefa on this matter, FC Sevastopol and FC Rubin Yalta played their first matches in the second Russian division on 16.07.2023. We consider such actions to be a gross violation of Fifa and Uefa statutes and Uefa’s decision on the special status of Crimean football.