Russian U17 team will no longer play in European qualifiers after UEFA says ‘no technical solution found’

Russia will not play in Under-17 European Championship qualifying matches this month due to a lack of a “technical solution,” UEFA has said.

UEFA had announced plans in September to allow Russia’s under-17 teams to participate in its competitions, and FIFA followed by confirming Russia would also be permitted to compete in the men’s and women’s under-17 World Cups.

Russia’s national teams and clubs had been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions since the end of February 2022 due to the invasion of Ukraine.

However, following UEFA’s executive committee meeting on Tuesday, European football’s governing body confirmed that Russian involvement in qualifying matches this month would no longer happen, saying: “the agenda point was withdrawn as no technical solution to allow Russian teams to play could be found.”

The 2024 Under-17 Men’s European Championship takes place in Cyprus and the 2024 Under-17 women’s European Championship is hosted in Sweden. One qualification group for the men’s tournament began in September and the remaining groups kick off their qualifiers in October. The women’s qualifiers also began this month.

Ukraine’s football association (UAF) had responded to UEFA’s decision to reinstate Russia’s Under-17 sides by saying it would not play in tournaments involving Russian teams — and urged other countries to follow suit.

The UAF then wrote to other European associations asking them to boycott matches against Russia’s under-17 teams, calling the partial lifting of the ban a “hazardous and terrifying trend”.

The football associations of England, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway stated they would continue not to compete against Russia.

Karl-Erik Nilsson, head of the Swedish Sports Federation, resigned from his position last week after he voted in favour of partially lifting the ban. The official policy of both the Swedish Sports Confederation and the Swedish football federation had remained opposing any relaxing of Russia’s exclusion from international competition.

UEFA had explained its decision to reinstate under-17 teams by stating it believes that “children should not be punished” for the conflict and that football “should never give up sending messages of peace and hope”. Under UEFA’s initial plan, proposed matches would have been conducted without the Russian flag, anthem, or kit, and would not take place on Russian territory.

UEFA has also been criticised for allowing Red Star Belgrade to play in the Champions League while bearing the name of their sponsor Gazprom, a Russian state-owned oil company. Gazprom was a former partner of UEFA, but the governing body cut ties with them as a sponsor following the invasion of Ukraine in February of last year.

The 2022 Champions League final, originally planned to take place in St. Petersburg, was relocated to Paris. This year’s Super Cup, initially scheduled for Kazan, was hosted in Athens.

Russia’s men’s team has not been allowed to take part in Euro 2024 qualifying, while the women’s team were not involved in last summer’s European Championship.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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