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Russia dealt blow as sports court backs FIFA

The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has rejected a bid by Russia to freeze a ban placed upon its football teams in advance of next week’s World Cup qualification playoffs, it was announced on Friday.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) had called for an emergency CAS ruling in advance of an official appeal against FIFA’s suspension of the country’s teams from its competitions.    

The FIFA ban was imposed after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, with the organization later saying Russia would not be permitted to play its World Cup qualification playoff against Poland scheduled for Moscow on March 24. 

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The winners of that match were due to face either Sweden or the Czech Republic in a playoff final five days later, with a place at the 2022 Qatar World Cup at stake. 

However, all three nations had said they would refuse to play Russia, before FIFA and UEFA issued a ban on Russian and Belarusian teams from their competitions. 

“The Challenged Decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in FIFA competitions,” read a CAS statement on Friday.

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The RFU is thought to still be pursuing the possibility of having the ban overturned by the time of the June international football window, something which would affect the playoff final currently planned for March 29 – and which as it stands would be between Poland and either Sweden or the Czech Republic. 

“The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A Panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions. No hearing has been fixed yet,” added the CAS statement, indicating that further verdicts on Russia would follow in due course.  

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s World Cup playoff against Scotland has already been postponed from next week until June.

Friday’s judgement comes shortly after a similar appeal was denied to freeze a ban imposed on Russia by European football governing body UEFA.

Russian athletes and teams have been subject to bans across multiple sports in the past weeks, with similar measures also taken against Belarusian athletes.

Russian officials and sporting federations have said the sanctions are discriminatory, and go against the principle of keeping sport outside of politics.  

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