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‘We have every right to be here’: Russia defends presence at FIFA congress



A member of the Russian delegation at the FIFA congress on Thursday said they had “every right” to be in Doha in spite of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian national teams and clubs have been suspended by global football governing body FIFA and European confederation UEFA, but the ban does not apply to the Russian Football Union (RFU).

That has allowed Russia to declare an interest in hosting Euro 2028 or 2032 and to attend world football’s biggest annual gathering of national associations.

Alexey Sorokin of the RFU was unapologetic over his presence in Doha.

“We are not hiding. We have every right to be here,” he said.

The RFU has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision to ban Russia from FIFA and UEFA competitions.

But it is very unlikely they can now participate in the World Cup, with Poland having qualified from the play-off path which contained Russia.

“We find it kind of strange that the Russian team was not allowed to play in this (World Cup) qualification,” Sorokin added.

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“It’s strange. We feel that our football players and football lovers have nothing to do with (the invasion).”

No national associations appear to have publicly expressed disagreement with Russia’s presence at the congress, and none has decided to boycott it as a result.

Also, there was no obvious dissent when the delegation was declared present in Doha.

Sorokin was asked about the decision to declare an interest in bidding for Euro 2028 or 2032 amid the invasion, and he said: “It is a long time until 2032.”

On whether Russia could successfully overcome a UK and Ireland bid for 2028, he added: “It’s a dual year bid – we have the choice of 2028 or 2032. We need to start.”

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