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At last! FIFA kicks Russia out of the World Cup

FIFA have thrown Russia out of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup after the IOC called for sporting competitions to remove Russian athletes in wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian men’s national team were scheduled to play Poland in a play-off for Qatar 2022 on March 24 – a match Poland said they would boycott – but the Poles have now been given a bye to the next round of qualifying.

It also means Russia will not compete at the women’s Euro 2022 in England this summer, with FIFA and UEFA completing talks today about suspending Russia from competitions until further notice.

UEFA have also cancelled their sponsorship deal with Russian energy company Gazprom. The sponsorship deal has been in place since 2012 and has been reported to be worth around 40 million euros per season.

Earlier the IOC decision, which included Belarusian athletes too, followed an Executive Board meeting where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was discussed.

The committee has withdrawn the Olympic order from Vladimir Putin ‘considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past’.

FIFA had already been branded an ‘absolute disgrace’ for failing to kick Russia out of the World Cup already, following sanctions on Sunday.

Russia had been allowed to compete under the name, ‘Football Union of Russia’, with no flag or anthem and it must find a neutral country to host its matches – but they will now not face Poland in next month’s World Cup play-off.

FIFA’s initial response to the invasion of Ukraine appeared to be an attempt to act in a way that was broadly consistent with the inclusion of the Russian Olympic Committee at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

However, the IOC’s decision would appear to be a game changer.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, is also expected to take further action against Russia by banning Spartak Moscow from the Europa League.

Having already stripped the country of the Champions League final, which was due to take place in St Petersburg on May 28, and hand it to Paris, UEFA is now prepared to throw Spartak Moscow out of Europe’s secondary competition.

Spartak were due to play German Bundesliga team, RB Leipzig, in the round-of-16 but according to German outlet Bild, the tie is now expected to be cancelled.

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