September 29 – The Ukrainian FA has written to all European associations asking them not to play against Russia following UEFA’s controversial decision to re-admit Russian under-17 teams into its international competitions.
Sweden, England, Latvia, Denmark, Norway and Poland have already lent their support to Ukraine’s stance and now all UEFA members have received the same letter asking them to follow suit and boycott matches.
Russia’s national teams and clubs have been banned from UEFA and FIFA since the invasion of Ukraine.
But following a UEFA Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, it was decided – not unanimously according to the BBC – that Russian under-17 sides will be re-admitted since “children should not be punished” for the conflict and that football “should never give up sending messages of peace and hope”.
UEFA insists the surprise reversal is not the beginning of an effort to reintegrate other Russian age groups into its competitions and that the ban on the Russian senior team and all its club teams would remain in place.
It also reiterated that matches will be conducted without the Russian flag, anthem or national kit and will not take place on Russian territory.
But the UAF’s letter to UEFA members describes the partial lifting of the ban on Russia as a “hazardous and terrifying trend”.
“We are more than concerned regarding the latest media statements spread after the UEFA ExCo meeting mentioning that UEFA has officially approved the admission of the Russian teams U-17 to participate in the international competitions already this season, driven by the fact that Russian children and youngsters are discriminated by the deprivation from international football,” the letter said.
“However, this actually contradicts UEFA’s commitment to combat violence and aggression, as according to the official UN (United Nations) statistics only — over 1,600 Ukrainian children, from new-born to youngsters, were killed or wounded by Russian terrorists (young footballers among them), thousands were tortured, kidnapped and taken by force to Russia, hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were forced to leave the home and normal life going to seek protection from the war. And this is the real and the most crucial violation of the children’s rights from all ever possible.”
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