Russia to appeal soccer ban to Court of Arbitration for Sports

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Tuesday (March 8) the Russian Football Union will appeal its ban by FIFA and UEFA from club and international soccer.

As well as seeking to overturn the ban, the RFU is also seeking a ‘stay’ which would allow its teams to compete pending a full decision.

Last week a legal expert told Reuters that FIFA and UEFA have a strong case that allowing Russia to participate in international and club football competitions amounts to a ‘force majeure’ and the current ban should remain in place.

Both soccer governing bodies banned Russia, preventing the men’s national team continuing with their World Cup qualifying campaign and the women’s team taking part in this summer’s European Championships. Russian participation in European club competitions was also affected.

The sanctions followed Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and the widespread global condemnation that followed.

Legal expert Antoine Duval, a senior researcher at Holland Asser Institute and an expert in sport law,  said on Friday (March 4) that letting Russian teams compete could seriously undermine FIFA and UEFA tournaments because other teams could threaten to pull out.

“FIFA and UEFA are facing an existential threat to their competitions due to this situation, and this existential threat is a total boycott,” he said.

“And the only way to deal with those existential threats is indeed at this point to bar the Russian competitors from those competitions. So there is a real case that can be built around that, those provisions, linked to a force majeure, and it would be also legally sound.”

Duval added that Russia may argue that other countries at war have not been banned in the past, and that postponing World Cup qualifiers, or leaving any decision over disqualification until as late as possible, would be more proportional.