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Al Hilal’s Salman Al-Faraj celebrates with teammates after winning the Asian Champions League in November last year. Russian clubs could end up playing in the competition if the country was allowed to join the AFC. Photo: Reuters

Russian football bosses to discuss quitting Uefa, ponder move to Asian Football Confederation

  • The Russian Football Union’s executive committee is expected to meet on Friday to talk about switch
  • Country’s club and national team have been banned from competition since February over invasion of Ukraine

Russian football bosses are expected to meet on Friday to discuss quitting Uefa and applying to join the Asian Football Confederation.

The Russian Football Union has set a deadline of Saturday to make a decision, so the national team could compete in any tournaments in Asia.

And Aleksander Dyukov, the RFU president, said making the choice now was necessary because a failure to do so would mean waiting until the 2027 cycle of international football.

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“Delaying the decision by a few days means that the national teams could lose four years,” he said.

All Russian clubs and national teams were suspended from competitive football by Fifa and Uefa in February after the invasion of Ukraine and, with the conflict ongoing, the suspension remains in place.

But despite the global ban on its teams competing on the club and international stage, sources have said the RFU believes a move to the Asian organisation would enable Russian teams to return to action in a more welcoming environment if, or when, Fifa ends its ban on Russia taking part in the sport at a competitive level.

“In the current geopolitical realities, the presence of the RFU in Uefa contradicts the national interests of Russia,” Roman Teryushkov, the deputy of the State Duma, told “It is impossible to build sports friendship with countries unfriendly to us and with constant poking from the collective West.”

A meeting was held in Moscow on December 23 to discuss the possibility of a transition to Asia, and according to ESPN, sources said the executive committee would talk about the move on Friday. Almost 75 per cent of Russia’s land mass is in Asia.

South Korea’s Kim Young-gwon and Cho Gue-sung after a game at the World Cup in Qatar. Russia was thrown out of the competition by Fifa over its invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Reuters

Uefa is understood to be monitoring the situation and is waiting for Russia to clarify its position. Russia is one of 55 full member associations of Uefa and was expected to host the 2022 Champions League final in St Petersburg until the game was switched to Paris as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

No nations have previously resigned from Uefa, but there is a precedent for the AFC in terms of accepting countries from outside the confederation.

Australia now participate as an Asian nation after joining in 2006 following their resignation from the Oceania Football Confederation.

While Australia, Japan and South Korea would likely be opposed to Russia’s application, other AFC members, including China, Iran and North Korea, might be inclined to support it.

Russia recently played friendly matches against Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Last week, Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, told Russian state media that preparations were being made for friendly matches in 2023.