Is total isolation threatening Russian soccer? Ahead of the FIFA meeting of the year

Is Russian soccer facing complete isolation?

The annual scheduled FIFA Congress will be held on March 31 in Qatar. For Russian soccer, the meeting of all 211 members of the international federation is critical. The meeting may consider the issue of suspension of RAF membership in FIFA and, in the worst case, expulsion from the organization. What can fans expect from this day? What hopes do Russian soccer officials have? And what will happen if the worst-case scenarios come true? Answers to these key questions are in this text.

Will there be a RAF delegation at the congress?

According to our information, for a few days the visit of the RFU delegation to Doha was in doubt. But in the end it will go there – and that is a good sign. Presumably, if the soccer family was unequivocally disposed to exclude Russia from its membership, the representatives of our country simply would not have been invited to the meeting.

In Qatar, Russian soccer will be represented by RAF general secretary Aleksandr Alaev and the former chairman of the organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup and Euro-2020 Alexei Sorokin. Both members of the delegation have trusted and strong relationships with international soccer officials, so their choice is logical.

There is no item on the agenda to consider the RAF’s status with FIFA. But that may change.

Alexei Sorokin told Championship yesterday that there is no item on the congress agenda about changing the status of the RFU (or even expelling it from FIFA). It would seem that everything is great. But there is something similar under the fourth item: “Suspension or expulsion of a member of the organization.” According to our sources, this item implies consideration of the status of the soccer federations of Zimbabwe and Kenya. The fate of the RFU is not on the agenda. But no one prevents someone in Congress from raising the issue of the status of Russian soccer. Sorokin is of the same opinion:

– I don’t expect any radical actions against the RAF. There’s a principle: soccer is out of politics. Besides, the Russian Football Federation hasn’t done anything for which we could be expelled.

There is already an agenda. As far as I know, the issue of discussing our status, exclusion and everything else is not on the agenda. But, of course, like any other issue, it may arise in the process of discussion.

I wouldn’t want that to happen. We don’t think we’ve done anything that would make it worth discussing. We hope and believe in the best.

Let’s say the question of exclusion was raised after all. What is needed to make a decision one way or the other?

According to the FIFA Congress regulations, the issue will be put to a vote. For the decision to expel/suspend the activities of RAF, 75% of Congress must vote “for”. That is, of the 211 members of the ban Russian soccer should support 158 countries.

What are the implications before the meeting?

According to our information, the expulsion of the RFU is the least likely course of events. The international federation does not want to go for that. According to our sources, the position of FIFA and UEFA at the moment sounds as follows: “After the situation is normalized, let’s sit down and talk about Russia’s return.”

According to this logic, the two main options for the development of events look like this:

Suspension of the RFU;

the current state of Russian soccer (a ban on participation in international matches until further notice) remains in effect. No other punitive measures will be taken.

At this point, sources estimate the second option as the most likely.

What happens if the RAF membership is suspended?

If the Congress session goes according to a bad scenario for us and the membership of the RAF is suspended, it would mean a full ban on participation in international matches of the national team and clubs, and a ban on international transfers. To put it mildly, there will be nothing pleasant in such a decision. If they decide to expel us from FIFA (although this option is the least likely), the Russian Football Union will also be banned from matches and transfers, but our return to the soccer family will be greatly delayed.

But even in the case of suspension of our country in FIFA (which, roughly speaking, also involves the activities in the UEFA) in the RAF is not currently considered an option to go to the Asian Confederation. The RAF plans to remain in European soccer after restrictions are lifted.