Ceferin defends keeping Russia as a UEFA member as sanctions re-inforced

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By Andrew Warshaw

May 11 – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has defended the decision not to throw the Russian federation and its officials out of his organisation, implying that would be one step too far in terms of punishments imposed as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

UEFA has applied severe sanctions, most notably kicking Russian teams out of its competitions and dismissing Russian interest in hosting the Euros, but Ceferin was quizzed at a post-Congress press conference about why the Russian Football Union was still allowed to operate and be a part of the UEFA family.

Asked why Russian players were banned but officials could still function, a seemingly irritated Ceferin responded: “Just to accuse football administrators to be in connection with (Vladimir) Putin is, I would say, not correct.

“How is the president of the Russian FA connected with Putin? Appropriate sanctions were taken and are putting big pressure on Russian football.  What I do hope is that this madness stops as soon as possible.”

Turning to the newly established Europa Conference League, Ceferin admitted UEFA may have been caught napping when it came to selecting the stadium to host the first ever final amid reports of fans being unable to acquire tickets.

Tirana’s National Arena, which is staging the inaugural final between Roma and Feyenoord, holds just 21,690 and demand for tickets has been huge.

“We will have to think about this in the future,” said Ceferin. “It’s a new competition and we said OK let’s start with a small venue. Now everyone wants a ticket. I’m obviously happy it’s sold out but we might have to consider going to bigger stadiums (in the future)”

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