Sports court sets July dates for appeals against Russian football bans

The court will hear on July 5 the Russian Football Union’s appeal against a joint decision by FIFA and UEFA to suspend its national and club teams days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

A second CAS hearing on July 11 will deal with an appeal by four Russian clubs, including national champions Zenit St. Petersburg, against exclusion from the next UEFA club competitions.

The UEFA Executive Committee made this separate decision on May 2 among decisions affecting more than 15 European competitions. The Russian women’s team has also been banned from the European Championship, which starts in England next month.

Attorneys and officials involved in the cases confirmed CAS hearing dates, which have yet to be formally listed by the court.

Clubs could request urgent rulings ahead of scheduled matches in qualifying rounds of the Champions League and other UEFA competitions.

The high-profile football cases could set the tone for similar appeals pending at the CAS between Russia and the Olympic sports governing bodies.

The IOC has said the suspension of Russian athletes and teams is not to punish them, but to protect the safety and integrity of events at a time of “deeply anti-Russian” sentiment.

UEFA and FIFA declared when imposing their bans on February 28 that “football here is fully united and in full solidarity with all affected people in Ukraine”.

Russian football officials attempted to freeze FIFA’s ban ahead of a World Cup qualifying playoff on March 24, but a CAS judge refused. Russia’s planned opponent Poland had refused to take part in the game, citing the invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA lawyers backed Poland’s move, later citing the risk of “irreparable and chaotic” consequences for the World Cup in Qatar if Russia were allowed to play and then progressed to November’s finals.

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“Having considered all these factors, FIFA must act to ensure the efficient organization and smooth running of its competitions,” the football association argued in court in March.

Lawyers for the Football Union of Russia argued the ban was “a disciplinary sanction in disguise” denying the right to be heard before the FIFA Council.

Poland eventually qualified for the World Cup and were drawn into a group with Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia on April 1.

Even if the Football Union of Russia wins its appeal at CAS, it seems unlikely that the men’s and women’s teams can be reinstated at the World Cup or Euro 2022.

The Russian clubs’ victory in their July 11 appeal should see them reinstated in the 2022-23 UEFA club competitions, worth tens of millions of euros (dollars) in prize money.

Zenit would have had direct entry into the group stage of the Champions League from September.

La Liga runners-up Sochi would appear in the Champions League third qualifying round draw on July 18. The first legs are scheduled for August 2-3.

CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow also joined the appeal submitted in mid-May before the end of the season. Dynamo, Krasnodar and Spartak Moscow later took the European qualifying spots.

One of the three judges in the clubs’ hearing is American attorney Jeffrey Benz. At the Beijing Olympics, Benz was part of the CAS panel that cleared Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva for competition despite an ongoing investigation into a doping case.

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