Russia was expelled from the European women’s soccer championship this summer and banned from participating in the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Monday, deepening the sporting isolation from the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
UEFA, the governing body of European football, announced its decisions on Monday. In addition to banning the Russian team from the two biggest competitions of women’s football, the governing body said it has banned all Russian national teams and clubs from UEFA competitions until further notice.
Russian clubs have also been banned from all UEFA competitions for the 2022-23 season – including the Champions League, football’s richest club competition.
Penalties had previously been most prominently applied to Russian men’s teams, expelling a Russian club, Spartak Moscow, from this year’s World Cup qualifiers in Qatar, while Russia needed just two more wins to stay on the pitch. Europa League qualifying rounds.
Russia’s women had missed two World Cup qualifying matches in April as a result of their team’s previous ban, but UEFA has delayed a decision on their participation in the women’s European Championship, which will start in England in July. Now, the event is approaching and with many countries saying that they will not play against a Russian team, few options are left.
Portugal, which replaced Russia in the European Championship, will take its place in the group that includes two of the tournament’s favourites, the Netherlands and Sweden, as well as Switzerland. Russia had beaten Portugal in a playoff to qualify for the event.
Various international sports leagues and organizations have removed Russian and Russian athletes from competition in various sports including tennis, football, auto racing and track and field since the country invaded Ukraine in February. Last week, Russia stripped of their right to host next year’s world ice hockey championships.
Russia has pledged to counter some of the penalties imposed against its teams and athletes in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which is responsible for deciding disputes in sports. (He has about a dozen complaints applied to the court already.) And not everyone agreed with the general bans on Russian athletes.
After Wimbledon confirmed that, under pressure from the British government, it would not allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the grass-court tennis tournament this summer, governing bodies for both the men’s and women’s tours have expressed concern about the decision.
The ATP, which runs the men’s round, called it “unfair” and said it had “the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game”.
The WTA, which oversees the women’s tour, said, “Individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing because of decisions made by the governments of their country of origin or country. The decision to focus on discrimination and such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals is neither fair nor justified.”
On Sunday, top male actors Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal added their voices to the criticism.
“It’s not their fault what’s happening right now in the war,” said Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion in Spain, describing some of the affected players as “Russian teammates, colleagues.”
“I’m sorry for them,” Nadal said. “Wimbledon has made its decision. The state did not force them to do so,” he said.