Re-elected UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin said on Wednesday it would be very hard to lift Russia’s suspension from the European football governing body’s competitions until the war in Ukraine ended.
“My personal opinion is that until the war stops it will be very hard for us to change anything,” Ceferin told a news conference during UEFA’s Ordinary Congress in Lisbon.
Both UEFA and world football’s governing body FIFA decided in February 2022 that all Russian teams - national or club sides - would be suspended from participation in their competitions following the invasion.
Most international sports federations have excluded athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus since the invasion, but some are now starting to allow them back into competition.
Ceferin, who was re-elected as UEFA president unopposed at the Congress, said a decision to ban Belarus from qualifying for the 2024 European Championship could “only be made by the UEFA executive committee”.
“We will monitor the situation and decide what to do,” he added.
In Lisbon, seven people - all men - were elected as members of UEFA’s executive committee for a four-year term. Laura McAllister was also elected for the “reserved female member position”.
Asked if it was a missed opportunity for UEFA in terms of diversity, Ceferin said it was a “democratic election” and that he could not tell delegates how to vote, adding: “That’s how it is.”
Ceferin was also questioned about UEFA’s work to fight discrimination.
In a recent case, Real Madrid’s Brazil international Vinicius accused Spain’s La Liga of continuing to do nothing about racist fans at matches after videos on social media showed some supporters shouting abuse and throwing objects at him during a match in December.
“I want it to be heard that we will try to be tougher in this direction because the level of discrimination is rising in Europe and elsewhere too,” Ceferin said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ceferin there was a need to target offenders more effectively, adding “maybe” it was “time to go with harsher measures” and “put some people in court”.
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