Football’s world governing body Fifa is set to suspend Russia until further notice – as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommends that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials are banned from any organised international competitions.
Fifa’s suspension would mean Russia’s exclusion from the men’s World Cup qualification play-offs in March.
However, the announcement drew criticism – and Scotland and the Republic of Ireland joined several other nations, including England and Wales, as well as Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden, in refusing to play against Russia.
On Monday, Scottish FA president Rod Petrie wrote to his Ukrainian counterpart “to send a message of support, friendship and unity”, with those two nations due to meet in their World Cup play-off semi-final on 24 March.
The 2022 Champions League final, originally due to be played in St Petersburg on 28 May, has been moved to Paris while numerous clubs have taken their own steps to disassociate themselves from Russia.
Manchester United has terminated its sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot while Bundesliga club Schalke has cancelled its partnership with main sponsor Gazprom – the official partner of the Uefa Champions League – having last week removed the Russian energy company’s logo from its shirts.
Leipzig are due to host Spartak on Thursday 10 March, with the second leg scheduled to take place on 17 March.
Bans needed to protect integrity of global sport – IOC
The IOC says it is urging sport governing bodies to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”, adding that “the current war in Ukraine puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma”.
“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country,” an IOC statement read.
However, the IOC said wherever it was not possible to ban them from competing for organisational or legal reasons, such athletes should not compete under the name Russia or Belarus and should be classed as neutrals.
‘I have to fight for my country’
Badminton’s world governing body (BWF) responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by announcing the cancellation of all tournaments in Russia and Belarus in addition to banning the national flags and anthems of the two nations.
“BWF will continue to monitor the situation closely and will proactively consult our international sport movement partners to discuss other options to potentially strengthen measures against the governments of Russia and Belarus,” it said.
The Ukrainian Tennis Federation has called on the sport’s governing body, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), to expel Russia and Belarus from the organisation and ban Russia from individual and team tournaments.