In reaction to the Ukraine crisis, FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian men’s and women’s football teams from competitions. Russia was the host of the 2018 World Cup despite complaints about its meddling in FIFA voting. The football’s governing board is not neutral; rather, it is under the financial influence of others.
Russia Experiences Economic, Sports Sanctions
Several Western countries have immediately imposed a range of sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The crippling economic sanctions have targeted the Russian Central Bank, export sector, and foreign assets. Russia is now under sports sanctions and its national teams are no longer able to participate in international matches.
FIFA and UEFA have suspended Russia from all world competitions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. FIFA has barred the Russian football team from the qualifying matches for one of Europe’s final places in the Qatar tournament. It has also banned Russian club teams from international competitions “until further notice”. In response, the Russian Football Union (RFU) has announced that it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The RFU has stated that it will launch a single lawsuit against global and European football bodies. The Russian football body has stressed that it will seek compensation for the damages.
Football Is Meant to Be Neutral, Friendly
FIFA and UEFA have not granted the Russian Football Union the right to present its position. The RFU has questioned FIFA’s motives and argued that its decision has violated sporting principles. FIFA has traditionally been neutral over politics related to its member, but it has now engaged in political reactions. FIFA does not usually punish national football teams for the activities of their governments.
Sports matches are neutral and possess a spirit of friendship without discrimination. Football is an old team sport where squads from different countries play each other during tournaments. A type of team sport involving playing with a ball without the use of hands was played in China back in 206 BCE. English people and other Europeans played football during the medieval era with teams competing against one another. Finally, in 1863, the English created an organised game and named it association football.
FIFA Did Not Ban Warmongers
In 1904, seven countries formed the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) in Paris. Football tournaments were part of the summer Olympics until the 1920s. But FIFA made a transition to professional football and founded the World Cup in 1930. Every four years, except for the years of World War II, FIFA has held World Cup matches without banning warmongering countries. Today, however, FIFA is imposing sports sanctions on Russian men’s and women’s football teams because of the Ukraine crisis. For example, in 1938, Nazi Germany invaded and annexed Austria and was not banned from the matches. The fascists of Nazi Germany forced Austrian players to play for them in the last tournament before WWII. FIFA did not bar Germany from competitions and the German football team took part in the World Cup in France.
The Saudis Kill Yemenis Without Being Banned
France started a war against an Algerian independent movement between 1954 and 1962. FIFA did not ban France from the 1950s World Cups, although the French and their proxies killed and tortured Algerians. Saudi Arabia has violated human rights in Yemen without being banned from the games by FIFA. The Saudis have impeded the right of people to self-determination and suppressed civilians in Yemen. They has been carrying out airstrikes against the people of Yemen since 2015. There have been reports of civilian casualties in Yemen in these Saudi airstrikes.
Saudi Arabia’s football team attended the qualifying matches and World Cup 2018. The Saudis have also been involved in war crimes by attacking a wedding party in Yemen in which several people, including the bride, lost their lives. In January 2022, the Saudis continued to kill scores of people and injuring more while pounding Yemeni cities. But FIFA has not banned Saudi Arabia from international tournaments.
FIFA Has a History of Corruption
The football’s international governing body has been acting differently since World Cup 2018. Russia was the host of the World Cup 2018 despite the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Oligarchs from Russia have reportedly bribed FIFA and bought the members’ votes. Another fresh example is the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the tiny state rich in oil and gas. The FIFA executive committee has chosen Qatar as the host of the next World Cup. According to the US Department of Justice, representatives of Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA officials to win the hosting rights for the two World Cups. Such corruptions are not new. During the 1986 World Cup, the US Secretary of State complained about FIFA’s policies. Also, former FIFA vice president Chung Moong-joon has argued in his book that FIFA is more political than football-oriented.
Western countries have made great efforts to press Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In addition to severe economic sanctions, sports organisations have made surprising announcements, banning Russian football players from all tournaments. FIFA, UEFA, and all sports bodies are supposed to be politically neutral. They need to keep sports and politics separate and not punish athletes for the actions of their states. FIFA has a history of corruption scandals and acts based on the demands of stakeholders and wealthy elites funding it. Bribery to buy votes for Qatar is not a new case for this powerful sports body and the Russian case rejects any claims that FIFA is apolitical. History will judge.