Ukraine crisis: Fifa to suspend Russia as IOC calls for athletes’ suspension

Source: BBC

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.

The IOC has urged sport governing bodies not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete because of a “breach of the Olympic Truce” by those countries’ governments.

It comes after Russia, supported by Belarus, launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last Thursday.

Fifa had earlier ruled that Russia must complete their upcoming games in neutral territory, under the title Football Union of Russia, and without their flag and anthem.

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.

Russia are scheduled to face Poland in the play-offs on the same day, followed by a final meeting with the Czech Republic or Sweden on 29 March, should they win.

Russia’s women are also set to compete at the Women’s Euro 2022 in England in July where they are in a group with the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

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.

RB Leipzig chief executive officer Oliver Mintzlaff says the German club are assuming their Europa League last-16 tie against Russian side Spartak Moscow will be cancelled.

Leipzig are due to host Spartak on Thursday 10 March, with the second leg scheduled to take place on 17 March.

Speaking on Monday, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte said: “The whole world has to be compact and show [it is] solid against the stupidity of the people.”

He added: “I think it’s right to express our disappointment about the stupidity about some decisions. Football and Uefa has to be compact and to show to be strong.”

Bans needed to protect integrity of global sport – IOC

The International Paralympic Committee is to meet on Wednesday to discuss Russia, just two days before the start of the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games.

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.

The Russian Olympic Committee has disagreed with the IOC, saying the decision “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the [Olympic] Charter”.

‘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.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who became the ATP’s world number one on Monday, said he wanted to promote “peace all over the world” in a news conference on Friday during the Mexican Open.

The ITF said: “This is a fast-evolving situation; we are in active discussion with the ITF tennis family and the ITF board to decide and align around our next course of action.”

At the Fencing World Cup in Cairo on Sunday, Ukraine’s men’s foil team refused to fence against Russia.

Ukraine’s Klod Younes told BBC Radio 5 Live that he and his team-mates now intend to return home and defend their country.

“I knew before the competition [that I would not fence against them]. I told my team-mates and they supported me and said they would do the same,” Younes said.

“Today we are going to try to re-book our ticket and we will try to go to Poland, to Hungary, and then we will figure out what to do.”

On whether he and his team-mates will fight if necessary, he added: “Of course. This is our country. This is my country. I have to fight for it. I am defending my territory.”

Ghanaian students in Ukraine to be transported to Poland

The leadership of Ghanaian students in Ukraine have set plans in motion to transport their members to Poland for safety.

 

The President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) in Ternopil City, Richard Ofori, said Ghanaian students in the region, numbering about 250, are expected to be safely transported by Tuesday.

 

“Buses have been booked for tomorrow (Saturday) and Tuesday to transport students to Poland, about 200 to 250 Ghanaian students. We had to make the decision ourselves,” Richard said.

 

He said this on the back of a recent attack launched on Ukraine by Russia. Following this development, Ghanaian students in the region have sent home appeals for them to be evacuated.

 

Government in response has asked them to seek safe places of abode in the interim, while it works to ensure their safety in the country.

 

In a statement announcing this, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is doing its best to guarantee the wellbeing of Ghanaians.

 

“The Government of Ghana is gravely concerned about the security and safety of our over 1,000 students and other Ghanaians in Ukraine as we engage the authorities, our relevant diplomatic missions, and our honorary consul on further measures,” it said.

 

The students, however, have taken up the task of ensuring their safety. Richard said, “our national executives [NUGS] in Ghana on Tuesday spoke to some officials in Ghana, but we are also trying to be proactive from this side.”

 

He also noted that they have a 15-day ultimatum to make plans and exit Poland.
“In Poland, we heard we have a Maximum of 15 days to be there so within that 15 days we have to make plans and book tickets and fly out of the country,” he said.

 

Richard added that students are still living in fear.
“As of now I have been in touch with only a couple of guys on the Eastern side and most of them are scared and panicking,” he said.

 

“There is also a limit on cash withdrawals from some ATMs, so I started withdrawing yesterday, and I got just a small percentage of my money. Banks and shops have closed, a friend of mine told me there are queues at the various ATMs. The drivers are not even working,” he added.

 

Background
Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an unprecedented attack on Ukraine. The move comes after Putin ordered troops into two pro-Russian, breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday.

 

There have been multiple reports of explosions, bombings, and Russian Military vehicles entering Ukraine from various parts of the border with Russia, with a growing number of casualties being counted on both sides.
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