UEFA issues decision on Russia and Ukraine

UEFA held an emergency meeting on Friday amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

UEFA has ordered Russian and Ukrainian football teams to play at neutral venues in any competitions organized by the European football governing body “until further notice.”

After calling an emergency meeting on Friday, UEFA said its Executive Committee had reached a decision on matches played by the Russian and Ukrainian national teams in its tournaments, as well as clubs from the two countries.

“At today’s meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice,” read a statement.

“The UEFA Executive Committee further determined to remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required, to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary.”

At the same meeting, UEFA confirmed that it was moving the 2022 Champions League final from the Russian city of St. Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris.

The step comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a special military operation in Donbass and Ukraine.

Putin said the step was to defend the populations of the newly-recognized republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned the move, with the fallout continuing to spill over into sport.

Many will take UEFA’s actions as an indication that Russia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff match against Poland which is scheduled for March will also be moved from Moscow.

Should Russia emerge from that match, they would face the winner of the meeting between Sweden and Czech Republic later that month, also in a match planned for the Russian capital.

The Polish, Czech and Swedish football associations issued a joint statement on Thursday calling on FIFA for the matches to be played at a neutral venue.     

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