The Russian football federation ‘is considering leaving UEFA and joining the Asian confederation’ after its clubs and national team were banned following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Both UEFA and the world governing body FIFA banned Russian sides from their competitions in late February after president Vladimir Putin ordered the brutal war.
Clubs from the Russian Premier League won’t be able to play in the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League indefinitely, with Spartak Moscow kicked out of the Europa League at the last-16 stage.
The men’s national side was booted out of qualifying for this year’s World Cup, with Poland handed a walkover to Tuesday night’s play-off final, while the women’s national team may be thrown out of the European Championship this summer.
But reports in Russia suggest the country’s football union may consider making the switch from UEFA to the AFC, with website Championat asking high-profile personalities to debate the pros and cons of the idea.
If this happened, Russia would switch to the Asian qualification tournament for the World Cup and compete in the Asian Cup as opposed to the European Championship.
Club sides would be in the Asian Champions League rather than the UEFA Champions League and the AFC Cup rather than the Europa League.
However, as the report acknowledges, the switch would have to be ratified by other Asian federations and may be far from straightforward.
There is a precedent of nations switching confederations, with Israel in AFC between 1954 to 1974 before being expelled. They weren’t affiliated to any confederation until joining UEFA in 1991.
Kazakhstan was originally a member of AFC before joining UEFA in 2002 and Australia left the Oceania federation to play in Asian in 2005.
The former Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, quoted by Championat, said: ‘The Asian Football Confederation? I don’t even know if this can be done.
‘While this is all at the level of conversations, I don’t think there will be such a serious suspension from UEFA. Although we all think – hope – that everything turns out quite differently.
‘Naturally, both the Russian national team and our clubs need to move on, and play, no matter how the situation develops.
‘If Russia has a real option with an Asian football confederation, then why not?
‘I worked in Asia, played in Saudi Arabia. It would be interesting for me to watch such matches.’
Source: Daily Mail