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Russia ban by FIFA to affect Manchester’s hosting of UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 matches



UEFA say no final decision has been made on Russia’s involvement in the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament – with all three of their group games set to take place in Manchester.

On Monday, the sporting world moved to suspend Russian teams and athletes from international competitions after the International Olympic Committee recommended that all international sports events do not invite or allow them to compete in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA and UEFA have since followed suit, meaning the three Women’s Euro 2022 fixtures to be held at Leigh Sports Village this summer are currently shelved.

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Russia were scheduled to play all three of their group fixtures at Leigh, and saw two opponents already indicate they would refuse to fulfil the game.

UEFA have told the Manchester Evening News that no decision has been taken on the specific implications on the tournament, and whether Leigh would be given new fixtures if Russia were unable to compete.

They said: “The case of the 2022 WEURO will be discussed and decided upon by the UEFA Executive Committee at a later stage.”

Even if Russia were cleared to play, two of their opponents would have to reverse decisions not to face any Russian side.

Sweden’s men’s side refused to face Russia in a potential World Cup play-off later this year should they beat Czech Republic, with their FA chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson saying: “The illegal and deeply unjust invasion of Ukraine currently makes all football exchanges with Russia impossible.

“We therefore urge FIFA to decide that the playoff matches in March in which Russia participates will be cancelled. But regardless of what FIFA chooses to do, we will not play against Russia in March.”

The Swedish Minister of Sports Anders Ygeman said: “As long as the Russian aggression continues, I want the EU to make a decision that we should not have any participation in Russian events and we should exclude Russian professional practitioners from participating in events in other countries.”

The FIFA and UEFA ban has no end date – “until further notice” is the only timeline given – meaning it is likely to extend into the summer at Leigh, with the first game on July 9 against Switzerland, who have explicitly said they won’t play that fixture.

The Switzerland FA said: “The SFV condemns the Russian attack on Ukraine, which not only blatantly violates international law but also the universal values of football, such as the promotion of friendly relations, propagated in the FIFA Statutes.

“The SFV supports the position of the federations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, who demand the exclusion of the Russian men’s national team from the play-offs for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

“In solidarity with these associations, the SFV will not be playing any competitive or friendly matches against Russian national teams until further notice.”

The Netherlands, who complete the group, had not declared any intention to play or boycott the planned clash with Russia on July 13, but have said they strongly condemn the ‘attack on Ukraine’. Russia’s final game against Sweden was set for July 17.

In any case, the FIFA and UEFA decision for a blanket ban on Russian participation in football means that the three fixtures are not set to go ahead as planned, leaving Leigh in limbo.

FIFA had previously recommended that the Russian team are not allowed to compete under their country’s name or flag, while UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the 2022 Champions League final. Reports suggest the English FA called on UEFA to ban Russia from the Euro 2022 tournament.

Leigh Sports Village, which hosts Manchester United Women’s home games, is also scheduled to host a quarter-final on July 22. Old Trafford will host the tournament opener between England and Austria on July 6, while City’s Academy Stadium will host three games in Group D involving Belgium, Iceland and Italy.

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