FIFA is looking at ending Russia’s blanket ban from international football, Sky News understands.
The decision could be taken during a FIFA Council meeting later today to allow Russian teams to play in the Under-17s World Cups if they qualify, sources say.
The ban has been in place since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine was launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2022 in a move FIFA said was in “full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine”.
But FIFA is looking to ease the punishment based on how European football’s governing body last week relaxed its position on Russia.
UEFA decided to end its complete ban on Russian international teams competing to allow them to participate in the Under-17s Euros qualifying in the coming weeks – but without their national kit, flag or anthem.
European teams secure qualification for the Under-17s World Cups based on their performances at their continental UEFA events.
So FIFA is viewing the Under-17s European Championships as de facto qualifiers for the global level which provides a logic for them to readmit Russia.
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A FIFA decision would come too late for the men’s Under-17s World Cup in November but Russia could qualify for the women’s event next year.
But the decision to lift the complete ban on Russian teams has created divisions in Europe – with England threatening to boycott matches against them and Ukraine calling for the continent to back their opposition.
UEFA though is privately pointing to Ukraine’s government now allowing their athletes to compete against Russians competing as neutrals.
Russia have still been allowed to play international friendlies since February 2022 but have been barred from tournaments and qualifying competitions, which stopped them from trying to reach the 2022 men’s World Cup and 2023 women’s event.
FIFA’s media department did not respond to requests for comment over the last week on Russia.