The Russian Football Union (RFS) is considering leaving European football permanently after their UEFA-imposed ban.
Russia ‘s clubs and their national teams have been banned from taking part in footballing competition by FIFA and UEFA until further notice following their country’s attacks on Ukraine ordered by president Vladimir Putin.
The two governing bodies’ decision saw Russia lose their place in the World Cup qualification process, rowing back on their initial initial stance that Valeri Karpin’s side would be allowed to compete in this month’s play-offs on certain terms – ensuring Poland were given a bye in their arranged tie.
As well as the nation’s World Cup campaign being ended, Spartak Moscow’s Europa League campaign was also brought to a close with the club thrown out of the competition. Russia’s one remaining club in European competition for the 2021/22 season had been due to play RB Leipzig in the Round of 16, but the German side were given a bye through to the last eight.
Russian journalist Nobel Arustamyan is now reporting that the RFS is now looking at the possibility of quitting European football permanently in response. It is claimed that they are exploring the option of quitting European football’s governing body UEFA and instead switching to the the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The report claims that this move would “soften the situation around Russian football” and would mean that its nation would no longer compete in the European Championships nor the European section of World Cup qualification, but its Asian counterparts. Furthermore, it would mean Russian clubs no longer participate in the Champions League and Europa League but would instead be in the Asian Champions Cup.
The move could come after Russia’s initial ban from Europe ends with FIFA set to hold a congress in Doha, Qatar on Thursday where decisions over long-term sanctions against the RFS are expected to be made.
The proposed switch would have to be ratified by other Asian federations and may be far from straightforward – Israel joined UEFA in 1991 after a 17-year hiatus from a continental organisation, having been banished from the Asian federation in 1974. Kazakhstan also made the switch out of AFC before joining UEFA in 2002, with Russia hopeful of going the opposite way. Another notable example of a federation switch was when Australia left the Oceania federation to play in Asia from 2005 onwards.
Former Manchester United and Everton winger Andrei Kanchelskis, one of Russia’s most famous ever footballers, is quoted as saying on the subject: “The Asian Football Confederation? I don’t even know if this can be done. While this is all at the level of conversations, I don’t think there will be such a serious suspension from UEFA. Although we all think – hope – that everything turns out quite differently.
“Naturally, both the Russian national team and our clubs need to move on, and play, no matter how the situation develops. If Russia has a real option with an Asian football confederation, then why not? I worked in Asia, played in Saudi Arabia. It would be interesting for me to watch such matches.”