Russia’s request to freeze a FIFA ban on its soccer teams ahead of next week’s World Cup qualifying playoffs has been dismissed.
FIFA said the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed the Russian soccer federation’s bid for an urgent interim ruling to freeze the ban pending a full appeal.
The CAS decision means Russia will not be able to play Poland in World Cup qualifying on Thursday and almost certainly means Russia cannot feature at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
They had been in a four-team play-off path also featuring Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic with the semi-finals and final being played later this month.
Poland, who had originally been due to play Russia in a play-off semi-final, have been granted a bye to the final where they will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.
The ruling follows a similar CAS refusal on Tuesday to freeze UEFA’s ban on Russian national and club teams in European soccer.
Russian athletes have been banned from competing in multiple sports because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian athletes have also been banned because their country has been an ally of Russia.
FIFA was initially pilloried for its response to Russia’s invasion, announcing a set of ‘interim measures’ that would allow Russia to continue competing, but at neutral venues and without their nation’s flag or anthem.
However, opposition to the measures gathered significant momentum, and Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic sent a joint letter to FIFA at the end of last month saying they would refuse to face Russia in the play-offs.
Just one day later, FIFA and UEFA ruled jointly on February 28 that all teams and clubs from the country could not take part in their competitions.
The move meant Russia would not be allowed to fulfil their qualifier against Poland and effectively ended their chance of participating in the World Cup in Qatar later this year.