Russian clubs banned from next season's Champions League

·3 min read
Zenit Saint Petersburg will not take part in next season's Champions League despite retaining the Russian title last weekend (AFP/Isabella BONOTTO) (Isabella BONOTTO)

Russian clubs have been banned by UEFA from participating in the Champions League and all other European competitions next season, European football's governing body announced on Monday.

"Russia will have no affiliated clubs participating in UEFA club competitions in the 2022/23 season," it said in a statement.

Russian clubs and national teams were suspended "until further notice" by UEFA in February in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian team's exclusion from the Women's European Championship to take place in England in July was also confirmed Monday.

Portugal, who had lost to Russia in a qualifying play-off, will take their place in Group C alongside 2019 World Cup runners-up Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

In addition, UEFA declared Russia's bid to host either the 2028 or 2032 European Championship "not eligible".

Russia's national team had already been kicked out of the qualifying competition for this year's World Cup in Qatar by FIFA just before a crucial play-off tie against Poland in March.

The country's football federation initially appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport only to drop its legal challenge last month.

It was also confirmed on Monday that Russia will play no further part in the qualifying campaign for the 2023 Women's World Cup with all its results up to now considered null and void.

Russia had been in second place in their section behind Denmark.

Similarly, the men's team will not participate in the Nations League due to start in June as had been planned, meaning they will automatically be placed bottom of their group.

UEFA's sweeping announcement also confirmed Russia's exclusion from qualifying for the next Under-21 European Championship.

- Euro bid kicked out -

Zenit Saint Petersburg would have taken part in next season's Champions League group stage after clinching their fourth Russian Premier League title in a row on Saturday.

The runners-up were due to enter in the third qualifying round.

The ban could lead to an exodus of the remaining foreign players from the country's leading clubs.

The Zenit squad includes former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren and the Brazilian one-time Barcelona winger Malcom.

The Russian football season has carried on since the start of the war, in contrast to the Ukrainian club season which was suspended immediately following the invasion and was last week abandoned without a champion being crowned.

A knock-on of UEFA's decision is that the automatic qualifying spot in next season's Champions League group stage that would have gone to Zenit is now set to go to the winners of this season's Scottish Premiership.

Scotland is the next country in line in UEFA's coefficient ranking.

Saint Petersburg had been due to host this season's Champions League final before UEFA stripped the city of the game following the start of the invasion, awarding the match to Paris instead.

UEFA said that the decision to kick Russia out of the bidding process for Euro 2028 and Euro 2032 was taken partly because the host nation would normally be guaranteed automatic qualification.

But Russia's ongoing suspension means it cannot be certain that the country will be allowed to return to the international fold by then.

Turkey had also shown an interest in hosting Euro 2028, along with a joint bid by the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Turkey and Italy were the other countries to express an interest in hosting the 2032 edition.

UEFA, which also recently broke its sponsorship deal with Russian state energy giant Gazprom, will announce the host nations for both tournaments in September 2023.

as/bsp