— Published 5 October 2023

FIFA opens the door to Russian teams

After UEFA, which paved the way at the end of last month, FIFA has now decided to lift the suspension of Russia’s Under-17 teams. Their exclusion from international competitions, decided in February 2022 in response to the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine, is now complete. It will apply to continental and world tournaments. Russia will be able to take part in the Men’s and Women’s Under-17 World Cups. But, unsurprisingly, this is subject to conditions. Russian teams will have to be entered under the name of the Russian Football Federation, they will have to wear “neutral colours” – a curious concept – and their flag and national anthem will be banned. “The FIFA Council reiterated its condemnation of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine and confirmed that the other provisions of the decision taken on 28 February 2022 would remain in force until the end of the conflict“, the body said in a statement.To put it plainly, the lifting of the suspension of the Russian teams does not apply to the adult teams, including the U21s and seniors. The next Men’s Under-17 World Cup will take place from 10 November to 2 December 2023 in Indonesia. Russia will not be taking part, as they were unable to try their luck in the qualifying matches. As a reminder, UEFA’s decision to reinstate Russia in European youth competitions provoked a wave of opposition from certain European countries. Ukraine announced its decision to boycott tournaments involving a Russian team. Poland took a similar stance. Sweden, meanwhile, has announced that it will not allow Russia to take part in the European Women’s Under-17 Championship, which it is due to organise from 5 to 18 May 2024.