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SPORTS UPDATE

Russia launch appeals to CAS against their bans by FIFA and UEFA

Russia have stepped up their legal battle against FIFA and UEFA by submitting an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) against their bans from international competitions over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, in a fast-track legal process.

Last week the Russian Football Union (RFU) said they would file one lawsuit against the two governing bodies to demand that Russian men’s and women’s national teams be allowed to compete, including in qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

And on Tuesday afternoon, CAS confirmed that they have received this appeal as legal proceedings took a step further.

Russian national and club teams were expelled from international competitions on February 28 ‘until further notice’ following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. FIFA and UEFA did not specify their legal reasons.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it hoped to give urgent interim verdicts on the appeals within days.

Russia’s men’s national team was scheduled to play Poland on March 24 in a World Cup qualifying play-off. Poland have refused to play Russia in the match which was originally to be in Moscow.

The winner of that match would have played the winner of the game between Sweden and the Czech Republic on March 29 with a place at the World Cup in Qatar at stake. Those two federations also have refused to play against the Russians.

CAS said the Russian appeals against FIFA and UEFA also involve the Polish, Swedish and Czech football federations, plus several other national federations in Europe.

Russia Football Union have submitted an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against their bans imposed by FIFA and UEFA following the country’s invasion of Ukraine

Russia Football Union have submitted an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against their bans imposed by FIFA and UEFA following the country’s invasion of Ukraine

The football federation of Belarus, Russia’s political and military ally, is listed as a party on UEFA’s side of the case.

The Russian legal strategy of filing separate appeals against football’s world and European governing bodies could require the broadly similar cases to be heard by two different panels of three CAS judges.

In appeals at CAS, each party chooses one arbitrator from an approved list and the court appoints a lead judge. The choices can be challenged.

A statement from the RFU last Thursday said: ‘The Russian Football Union will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne against the decision taken by FIFA and UEFA to remove the Russian national teams from participation in international competitions.

‘As part of a single lawsuit against two organisations, the RFU will demand the restoration of all men’s and women’s national teams of Russia in all types of football in the tournaments in which they took part (including in the qualifying round of the World Cup in Qatar), as well as compensation for damage, if any will be installed.’

The RFU insists FIFA and UEFA violated fundamental rights, sporting principle and fair play when it took away the right of Russian clubs and national teams to compete.

It urged an expedited procedure to occur with its case in order to allow its clubs and international sides to compete in upcoming fixtures, which did include qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup later this month.

‘In order to ensure the possibility of the participation of Russian teams in the next scheduled matches, the RFU will insist on an expedited procedure for considering the case,’ the statement continued.

‘If FIFA and UEFA refuse such a procedure, a requirement will be put forward for the introduction of interim measures in the form of suspension of FIFA and UEFA decisions, as well as competitions in which Russian teams were supposed to participate.

‘The RFU believes that FIFA and UEFA did not have a legal basis when deciding on the removal of Russian teams. It violated the fundamental rights of the RFU as a member of FIFA and UEFA, including the right to take part in competitions.

‘In addition, the decision to withdraw the national team from qualification for the 2022 World Cup was made under pressure from direct rivals in the play-offs, which violated the principle of sports and the rules of fair play.’

The RFU believes FIFA and UEFA did not give them a fundamental right to make a defence of their position, adding: ‘The Russian Football Union was also not given the right to present its position, which violated the fundamental right to defence.

‘In addition, when making decisions, FIFA and UEFA did not take into account other possible options for action, except for the complete exclusion of participants from the competition from Russia.

‘Other details of filing an appeal, including the timing of the consideration of the claim, will be announced later.’

The ban also means Russia will not compete at the women’s Euro 2022 in England this summer.

The joint statement read: ‘Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice.

‘These decisions were adopted by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.

‘Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.

‘Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.’

FIFA took their time in kicking Russia out of the World Cup and removing them from international competitions and were branded ‘an absolute disgrace’.

Initially, they had been told they were allowed to compete under a different team name with no national flag on a neutral venue.

UEFA took further action by banning Spartak Moscow from the Europa League, meaning RB Leipzig advance to the quarter-finals.

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