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Yalla Shoot :Ukraine FA urges Fifa and Uefa to exclude Russia over Crimean clubs | Soccer

Fifa and Uefa are under pressure to extend sanctions on the Russian football federation, including the possibility of expulsion from the governing bodies, after two Crimean clubs were incorporated into its pyramid and allowed to start the country’s season last Sunday.

Rubin Yalta and FC Sevastopol played their first matches in Russia’s Football National League 2B, the fourth tier, despite rules that prohibit Crimean clubs from playing in competitions organised by the Russian Football Union (RFS). Crimea has been considered a “special zone” by Uefa since Russia annexed the region in 2014, effectively meaning its clubs can only compete in a championship against each other and have no access to European tournaments.

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.

This month the RFS secretary general, Maxim Mitrofanov, told local media that the Football National League 2B was not run under his organisation’s auspices and, after a reformulation of Russia’s lower divisions ahead of this season, was an amateur competition.

Sources spoken to by the Guardian, including current players, have contested the latter assertion, while the league is listed on the RFS’s website and is a functioning part of the pyramid. Whether attempts to leverage such loopholes pass muster with Uefa and Fifa, who are yet to comment on any potential action, remains to be seen.

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.

“In light of the above, the UAF once again appeals to Fifa and Uefa to consider the possibility of excluding the RFS from membership in Fifa and Uefa due to proven non-compliance with the requirements of the charters of the governing bodies of the world and Europe and the values of the global football family.”

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Previous attempts to integrate Crimean clubs into Russia’s league pyramid have stopped short, but the game’s authorities must now consider whether they will add to the punishments already imposed on its football ecosystem. Russian national teams and clubs have been banned from Fifa and Uefa competitions since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 but outright ejection would cut them entirely adrift from the rest of the sport. The RFS was contacted for comment.

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