Status: 26.09.2023, 18:40 p.m.
By: Stefan Schmid
UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin justifies the re-admission of Russian youth teams. © Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL/IMAGO
The UEFA Executive Committee allows the return of Russian youth teams to the international stage. Encounters with German teams are possible.
Limassol - When Russia began its illegal attack on Ukraine in February 2022, UEFA also decided to ban all Russian teams from the competitions. This rule has now been relaxed in favour of youth teams, which, according to UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, should not be further discriminated against.
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UEFA does not want to punish youth teams "for the actions of adults"
Following the meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee in Limassol, Cyprus, on Tuesday 26 September, the association announced a change in its approach to Russian teams on its website. In the course of this season, junior teams will again be allowed to participate in international competitions.
UEFA recognises "that children and young people should not be punished for the actions of adults and firmly believes that football should never stop sending messages of peace and hope." This is the explanation given in the official announcement on the UEFA website.
Russian teams could soon meet German junior teams
As part of the re-admission, the U17 teams could play their first international matches under the UEFA umbrella since the start of the Ukraine war within the next few weeks. Currently, the first mini-tournament for the qualification for the U17 European Championship for male youth in May and June 2024 is already being held. The final qualifying groups will begin on November 15.
UEFA's intention is to integrate the Russian youth teams (juniors) into the groups that have already been drawn. In the case of qualifying for the U17 men's European Championship, there could also be a clash with DFB teams. The "German" Group 3 will play the qualifier in Liechtenstein from 15 to 21 October. In the women's competition, a clash with Germany is unlikely, as the Russian juniors are likely to be integrated into a League B group – the women's round will be played in a different system. Germany, on the other hand, is in Group A4.
A-teams from Russia remain suspended
UEFA President Čeferin wants to offer young footballers the "opportunity to play football against their peers from all over Europe and compete with them" and thus invest in "a hopefully better and more prudent generation and a better future". Compared to the A-Teams Russia, the exclusion remains in place. This reflects "UEFA's commitment to take a stand against violence and aggression," Čeferin said.
As can also be seen from the announcement, the Executive Committee reiterated its position on the Russian war of aggression. They condemn the "unlawful Russian war of aggression" and will continue to exclude not only the senior national teams but also the adult teams of the clubs from any competition. This persisted until the end of the war in Ukraine. On the other hand, Belarusian teams, which were discussed at the beginning of the year, have still not been excluded. (sch)