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FIFA issues decision on foreign footballers in Russia


The global football governing body has extended a rule initially introduced in March

Foreign football players and coaching staff will be allowed to unilaterally suspend their contracts at Russian clubs until the summer of 2023, FIFA has announced. The decision is an extension of a ruling first introduced in March after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.

FIFA said that if Russian clubs could not mutually agree contraction termination with any wantaway foreign stars and staff before the end of this month, “these players and coaches will have the right to suspend their employment contracts with their clubs until 30 June 2023.”

The ruling, which also applies to Ukrainian clubs, “give[s] players and coaches the opportunity to train, play and receive a salary, while protecting Ukrainian clubs and facilitating the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia,” FIFA argued.

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The step is effectively aimed at allowing foreign stars to leave Russia ahead of next season without fear of contractual punishment from their teams.

Stars such as Poland and FC Krasnodar midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak took advantage of the ruling last season, in the midfielder’s case when he went out on loan to Greek club AEK Athens.

At Spartak Moscow, striker Jordan Larsson – son of Sweden and Barcelona icon Henrik Larsson – moved to AIK in his homeland, also on a loan deal. Larsson recently told Swedish media he was unsure if he would return to Spartak, where he is still under contract.

Some Russian clubs have seen an exodus of foreign playing and managerial talent in the wake of the military campaign in Ukraine, although others – most notably Premier League champions Zenit St. Petersburg – have retained the services of their biggest names.


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Russian men’s national team manager Valeri Karpin, who also coaches club team Rostov, complained last season that the situation had distorted the sporting integrity of the league.

It has also been argued, however, that the departure of foreign talent will mean more opportunities for Russian youngsters to thrive.   

One player to remain is new Spartak Moscow signing Maciej Rybus, a Polish international.

This week the Polish FA told the defender – who previously played for Lokomotiv Moscow – that he would no longer be selected for national team duty because of his decision to stay in Russia.

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The punishment means Rybus will effectively be forced to miss the World Cup in Qatar later this year, and may never turn out for his country again.

Both FIFA and UEFA have imposed a ban on all Russian teams, with UEFA confirming in early May that the suspension would cover at least the 2022/23 season.

The Russian women’s national team have been removed from this summer’s European Championship in England, while their men’s counterparts were expelled from the 2022 World Cup qualifying playoffs in March.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) is appealing the bans with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland (CAS), with a definitive verdict still pending in the case.



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