Watzke and Rummenigge vote for return of Russian youth teams
UEFA wants to let youth teams from Russia play again – DFB vice-president Hans-Joachim Watzke and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also voted in favour. Numerous European federations have announced a boycott of such games.
It’s about children who can’t do anything for the war, Watzke told the “Bild-Zeitung” on Thursday (29.09.2023). The decision is not a softening of the negative attitude towards Russia, as the adult teams remain excluded. Bayern Munich supervisory board member Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also justified his vote for the return with similar arguments.
DFB vice-president Watzke was elected in April to the executive committee, which made the decision on Tuesday. Rummenigge is entitled to vote as a representative of the European Club Association (ECA). DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, as a member of the FIFA Council, is automatically invited to attend every meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, albeit without voting rights of his own. On Friday, the DFB presidium will meet, and according to information from Sportschau, the topic will be discussed. The association has not yet commented on the request of the sports show.
UEFA Executive Committee decided: Russian teams should play without national symbols
At its meeting in Limassol in Cyprus on Tuesday, the UEFA Executive Committee decided that Russian youth teams would be allowed to play again in the future, but would not be allowed to play home games. In addition, they should not play in their official jerseys, anthems and flags are also prohibited. On the other hand, the suspension of all other Russian teams, both club and national teams, was confirmed.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is currently on its own course of opening up to Russia, had recently recommended only the re-admission of Russian individual athletes, but not of teams.
Numerous federations announce boycott of matches against Russia
The national associations of England, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway and Finland announced on Wednesday that they would not compete against Russian teams in a corresponding draw.
“Children and adolescents should not be punished for the actions of adults,” UEFA said. Norway’s federation chief Lise Klaveness said that she did not agree with the argument in this case: “We believe that in this extraordinary situation it is too difficult to separate national team football from the nation of Russia and that the regime will use top-level football as part of its propaganda.”
Sweden will not allow Russia to participate in the European Under-17 Championship
“I was surprised by the statement of the UEFA Executive Committee,” wrote Poland’s association president Cezary Kulesza at X, clarifying: “If Russian national teams are allowed to participate in the competition, our national teams will not play against them. That’s the only right decision.”
The English federation told the Reuters news agency that its position was unchanged: “England’s teams do not play against Russia.” Lithuanian federation president Edgaras Stankevičius said: “If draws result in matches against Russia, our players will not enter the field. Regardless of what sanctions the federation faces for this and regardless of where the game is to be played.”
Latvia, Norway and Finland also reiterated their stance not to play against Russian teams. Norway’s association president Klaveness also criticized the process. “We were not aware that UEFA would be dealing with the matter this week and we must be able to expect UEFA to do better on such an important matter,” Klaveness said.
In 2024, the men’s U17 European Championship in Cyprus and the women’s U17 European Championship in Sweden are scheduled, with qualification starting in October 2023. “We will not allow a potentially qualified Russian national team to participate in this tournament,” Sweden’s federation said. The 17 Men’s European Under-2024 Championship will take place in Cyprus. The Association of Ukraine called on UEFA to reconsider the decision and announced a boycott of any matches against Russia. The action “tolerates Russia’s aggressive policy.” The Ukrainian federation called on all UEFA members to boycott matches against Russia.
Executive Committee appointed to Gazprom manager from Russia
The UEFA Executive Committee currently consists of 17 men and one woman. Among them are representatives from England, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine. With Alexander Dyukov, however, Russia’s association president still sits on the Executive Committee. Since UEFA only suspended the teams, but not the association, Russia is basically a regular member of UEFA. Dyukov, a manager at a Gazprom subsidiary, sits on the executive committee with voting rights.
At the request of the sports show, UEFA did not initially specify the exact voting behavior. According to information from Sportschau, concerns were raised by an official. However, a clear majority voted in favour of re-admitting the Russian youth teams.