The response of Russian football, full of challenges for world sport

By challenging in court its exclusion from international competitions, the Russian Football Federation pits world sport against its contradictions between open defense of human rights and refusal to renounce its political neutrality.

Can Russia be restored to European football and the race for the 2022 World Cup? Furthermore, will athletes’ access to sporting events now depend on the behavior of their governments?

What does Russian football want?

The Russian Football Federation (FUR) declared the Russian sport’s uprising against the series of sanctions that struck it within a few days and appealed Tuesday to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to allow the banning of its clubs and national teams. Cancel. FIFA and UEFA competitions.

Before the Lausanne court decides on the merits of the dispute, the FUR asks him to suspend the implementation of the sanctions – that is, concretely to allow his men’s selection to play against Poland in the World Cup play-off at the end of March -2022, and the female roster to play Euro-2022 in England this summer.

Can Russia still dream of the World Cup?

According to lawyers interviewed by AFP, the tension is real: the FUR may be the “irreparable damageWhat Sbornaïa, quarter-finalist of the 2018 World Cup hosted at home, would suffer if he cannot defend his chances of participating in the Qatari tournament (November 21 – December 18).

But the CAS must also “balancing the interests of the parties“So take into account the inextricable situation in which FIFA finds itself,” recalls Antoine Duval, European sports law specialist at the Asser Institute in The Hague.

Since Poland and some European federations refuse to face the Russians, the authority is “facing the threat of a boycott“That weakens the queen competition, he emphasizes.

FIFA also decided on Tuesday evening, without waiting for the interim measures of the CAS and being at risk of being rejected, to place Poland directly for the final of the play-offs.

What exactly is the debate?

Although the authorities have refrained from publicly justifying their sanctions, UEFA in a letter to its federations advised its “serious concern about the ability to ensure the safety of all“, because of the hostility towards the Russians of certain federations and public opinion, and the closure of the airspace.

She is oriented as follows:on the argument of force majeure“or endangering its matches, making it”to maintain the idea that the sports movement is still neutralnotes Antoine Duval.

But for David Pavot, professor of international law at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada, FIFA and UEFA can invoke the illegality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine much more frontier:a clearly crossed red linemassive violation of human rights“convicted”through a plethora of international resolutions

Is world sport renouncing its neutrality?

From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to allegations of genocide in Xinjiang by the Chinese government, sports organizations face a number of situations in which they can sanction violations of international law or human rights by their member federations.

Is it necessary “to embark on a trajectory opposed to the universalization of the sport that we have known for decades, by conditioning participation in competitions?asks Antoine Duval.

For David Pavot, “the violation of human rights in sport is beneficial“even though the organization in China of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games illustrates “the variable geometry policy of sports bodies” in this domain.

In the medium term, everything will depend on the scope given to the Russian-Ukrainian case, sums up Antoine Duval: either it is a situation so exceptional that it can remain without a future, or it is a “hinge“, which in the future will force the sports actors “to oppose a violation of human rights by the states where they are located