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FIFA removes suspension on under-17 Russian athletes competing in international football

by Sonya Bandouil October 5, 2023 3:30 AM 1 min read
A Ukraine 'Football stands together' flag is seen prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Fulham FC at Emirates Stadium on Aug. 26, 2023. in London, England. (Photo credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
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FIFA announced that under-17 athletes from Russia will now be able to participate in international football competitions under neutral colors.

European football’s governing body, UEFA, announced a similar decision last week, allowing players from Russia to compete in European matches.

The conditions of the reintegration include not having the Russian national flag or colors on display at matches and playing under the name “Football Union of Russia,” according to Politico.

The FIFA ban was implemented in Feb. 2022 in response to the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Multiple international sports organizations followed suit, including, the International Ice Hockey Federation, World Rugby, Formula One, and the International Olympic Committee.  

French President Emmanuel Macron said the Russian flag should be banned from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, where Russian athletes will be competing under neutral colors.

“Russia as a country has no place [at the Olympic Games] when it has committed war crimes and deported children,” Macron said on Sept. 7.

The decision to lift the suspension has led to international teams boycotting matches against teams from Russia. Football associations from England, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have announced they would not compete against teams from Russia, according to The Athletic.

The Ukrainian Football Association appealed to FIFA and UEFA in an official letter, urging the organizations to reconsider their decisions while the war is ongoing.

“While we fully support any action aimed at helping children, this decision seems blind to the suffering of Ukrainian children,” the UAF statement said.

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