UAF appealed to FIFA, UEFA and national associations regarding the decision to return the Russian teams

The Ukrainian Football Association appealed to FIFA, UEFA and national associations of Europe with an official letter asking to review the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee regarding the re-admission of Russian U-17 teams to international competitions.

"This decision is completely unexpected, given the decisive position of UEFA and FIFA since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, according to which all Russian teams were suspended from any competitions under the auspices of these organizations. At the time, UEFA made it clear that this decision was necessary to ensure its statutory objectives of promoting football in Europe in a spirit of peace and organizing and conducting football tournaments with respect for the health of the players. The presidents of both organizations expressed their "full solidarity with all affected people in Ukraine" and hope that the situation in Ukraine "will improve significantly and quickly so that football can once again become a vector of unity and peace between people."

However, as the whole world knows, the suffering of the Ukrainian people has only increased since then and continues to this day. While we fully support any action aimed at helping children, this decision seems blind to the suffering of Ukrainian children. Russian soldiers continue to kill and kidnap Ukrainian children and destroy civilian infrastructure, including thousands of schools and hundreds of stadiums and sports facilities, thereby destroying the opportunity for Ukrainian children not only to play sports, but also to live a normal life.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, hundreds of children—from newborns to teenagers—have been killed, thousands injured, and more than 3000 cases of crimes against children, including sexual abuse, have been filed. At least 19 children were kidnapped from Ukraine and taken to Russia. For those who survived and remained, rockets and projectiles continue to fly overhead, and they are forced to spend hours in cold underground bomb shelters and have very little opportunity to enjoy the freedom enjoyed by the players of the Russian U-17 teams, who live and train in warm, safe and peaceful cities.

We emphasize that this war violates the rights of Ukrainian children, not Russian children, whose only problem is the lack of experience of participating in international competitions in Europe.

At the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), during an appeal by the Russian football union, UEFA made it clear that, given the general public opinion on the Russian intrusion, "regardless of age, UEFA considers it irresponsible to put Russian athletes in a position where they may face a significant backlash, not only physically, but also on other forums, including social networks." As the situation has only worsened over the last 18 months, according to UEFA's reasoning, the latest decision is "irresponsible".

At CAS, UEFA also made it clear that member associations' refusal to play against the Russian national team threatened the integrity of the competition and that the exclusion of Russian teams was "necessary" to achieve statutory objectives.

Against the backdrop of the latest decision, the Ukrainian Football Association appealed to all UEFA member associations to join the boycott of any matches against Russian teams. Such a boycott has already been officially announced by the football associations of England, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Romania. Several other countries - Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Estonia - have publicly said they are awaiting further clarification from UEFA. UEFA's own argument suggests that its statutory objectives require the recent decision to be overturned.

We firmly believe that football should always be on the side of peace, tolerance and justice between countries in any competition.

We call on FIFA and UEFA to stand against the violence and arbitrariness of the Russian Federation. We will resolutely adhere to this position until the end of the war in Ukraine and the restoration of peace on the European continent," the letter reads in particular.

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