Off Sides

© Sputnik / Ted RallOff Sides
Off Sides - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.03.2022
On Monday, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and its European counterpart, UEFA, made the unprecedented move to indefinitely suspend Russian teams from the league, in response to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine that began on Thursday.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people,” said the joint FIFA-UEFA statement.
FIFA often suspends teams, but typically for corruption or government meddling in club affairs. Only twice has it acted politically: in 1961, when South Africa was suspended because its Apartheid government insisted on only fielding all-white teams; and in 1992, when Yugoslavia was suspended amid the Yugoslav Wars following United Nations sanctioning.
The suspension of Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine stands out due to FIFA’s deafening silence during many other military operations, including the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which was followed by an eight-year-long occupation war that killed up to 400,000, according to estimates. In addition, the November games are hosted by Qatar, an absolute monarchy with a brutal human rights record and where the construction of facilities for the games has been marred by accusations of slave labor and the deaths of over 6,500 migrant workers.
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