The international world of athletics is now coming down on Vladimir Putin, with FIFA banning Russia from qualifying from the 2022 World Cup scheduled for later this year in Qatar, as first reported by the New York Times.
The decision comes hours after the world soccer governing body initially announced more relaxed punishments for Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Thursday and continues its assault on the neighboring country, claiming that the Russian flag and anthem could not be used while the national team would play under the acronym “RUF,” the Russian Football Union.
Russia was scheduled to compete for one of Europe’s final qualifying spots for the World Cup in late March as they were featured in a four-team group that would have played in a mini knockout tournament. But their opponent for a March 24 match, Poland, refused to play them. Sweden and the Czech Republic — the other members in that group that could have potentially played Russia had they won, also stated that they would not play Russia before those sentiments were echoed by larger soccer federations in England, the United States, and France.
UEFA, which is the governing soccer body of Europe, had already removed the pinnacle of its domestic continental competition, the Champions League Final from St. Petersburg, which was scheduled for May 28.
Russian club teams are not exempt from FIFA’s punishment. Spartak Moscow, which is the last Russian team competing on the European continental stage in the knockout portion of the Europa League, will be barred from its match against German side RB Leipzig.
That decision aligned with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) imploring that any international sports federations should prohibit Russian athletes and teams from any international sporting event.