Ceferin: “The tradition of neutrality in sport cannot be maintained in 2022 in a situation of war”.

VIENNA, May 11 (dpa/EP) –

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin on Wednesday defended “unprecedented sanctions” against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, necessary because “the tradition of neutrality in sport cannot be maintained in 2022 in a situation of war” , even if they could set “a dangerous precedent”.

Mr Ceferin explained at the UEFA Congress in Vienna on Wednesday that football has been one of the losers in this war, with sweeping sanctions imposed on both Russia and Belarus, for which the body had to “get out of its comfort zone” and act.

“Football is undoubtedly the loser, one of the losers, we are depriving players, coaches and fans who have nothing to do with this situation of their passion and their dreams,” the official said. European soccer.

The Slovenian appreciated that “when UEFA raises unprecedented sanctions, football tries to make its small contribution to society and helps European leaders in their efforts to bring peace to our continent”. “Promoting a spirit of peace in European football is also a statutory objective of UEFA,” he added.

“This may be a dangerous precedent, but in this case the cause is far more important than any other. The reason is more important than the careers of hundreds of footballers and the tradition of neutrality in sport cannot be maintained in 2022 in a situation of war,” Mr Ceferin argued.

The UEFA president expressed the hope that “reason will prevail as soon as possible and order will be restored. “Then we will have peace, for the good not only of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, but also of our Russian brothers and sisters, who I hope will be back among us in the very near future,” he said. he commented.

UEFA has sanctioned Russian and Belarusian clubs and national teams and banned St Petersburg from hosting this year’s Champions League final. The Russian Football Federation (RFU), which was present in Vienna led by its general secretary, Alexander Alayev, has not yet been suspended, while the Ukrainian delegation participated by telematics.

However, Mr Ceferin told the media after the congress that he was not ruling out “anything” when asked if it was possible to suspend the RFU in the future, noting that “it is too early to talk about it” and hoping that the war will end as soon as possible.


The UEFA chief was also highly critical of the scenes of violence and chaos that marred the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last year, which he described as unrepeatable.

An independent investigation into the disturbances at London’s National Stadium last July identified more than 20 “near misses” which could have resulted in serious injury or death.

Wembley remains supportive of Mr Ceferin and UEFA, and the stadium will host the inaugural ‘Finalissima’, a match between Euro winners Italy and Copa America winners Argentina. next month, as well as the European Women’s Championship final this summer.

Ceferin insisted that lessons must be learned from last summer. “The images of violence at Wembley last summer during the European Championship final were unacceptable,” said the Slovenian leader.

“When a family goes to see a Euro football match or any other competition, they have to have fun, have a good time, watch football. People should feel safe in a football stadium, they should never feel unsafe, and that day it did. With the help of the authorities, this can never happen again,” Ceferin said.

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