Former Russia captain Igor Denisov labelled the ongoing Ukraine invasion a "complete horror", but fears he may be jailed or killed for speaking out.

Russia, with the help of nearby Belarus, invaded neighbouring Ukraine in late February after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The actions of Russia have led to widespread condemnation, with financial, sporting and political sanctions imposed on the nation in an attempt to deter the attacks.

Football stars such as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Shevchenko have repeatedly called for the invasion to stop, but Denisov is one of the most prominent Russian athletes to condemn the attacks.

Former Zenit midfielder Denisov, speaking to sports journalist Nobel Arustamyan in an interview published on YouTube, is still living in Russia and acknowledged he is risking his life by opposing the invasion.

"To me, this war is a catastrophe, a complete horror," said Denisov, who captained his country and earned 54 caps between 2008 and 2016.

"Maybe they'll put me in jail or kill me for these words, but I'm telling it like it is."

The 38-year-old also revealed he has personally written to Russia president Vladimir Putin to urge the attacks to stop.

"I am a proud guy. This was after three or four days," Denisov added. "I even said to him that I am ready to go on my knees before you so that he would stop it all."

Former Russia captain Igor Denisov labelled the ongoing Ukraine invasion a "complete horror", but fears he may be jailed or killed for speaking out.

Russia, with the help of nearby Belarus, invaded neighbouring Ukraine in late February after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The actions of Russia have led to widespread condemnation, with financial, sporting and political sanctions imposed on the nation in an attempt to deter the attacks.

Football stars such as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Shevchenko have repeatedly called for the invasion to stop, but Denisov is one of the most prominent Russian athletes to condemn the attacks.

Former Zenit midfielder Denisov, speaking to sports journalist Nobel Arustamyan in an interview published on YouTube, is still living in Russia and acknowledged he is risking his life by opposing the invasion.

"To me, this war is a catastrophe, a complete horror," said Denisov, who captained his country and earned 54 caps between 2008 and 2016.

"Maybe they'll put me in jail or kill me for these words, but I'm telling it like it is."

The 38-year-old also revealed he has personally written to Russia president Vladimir Putin to urge the attacks to stop.

"I am a proud guy. This was after three or four days," Denisov added. "I even said to him that I am ready to go on my knees before you so that he would stop it all."

UEFA has extended its ban on Russian teams competing in European competition until at least the end of next season and declared the country's bid to host Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 "ineligible".

Russia has been hit by a number of sporting sanctions in wake of the country invading neighbouring Ukraine in March, with clubs blocked from competing in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

That will remain the case next season, while Russia's audacious bid to host the European Championship finals in the next decade has also been blocked due to "bringing the bidding procedure or European football into disrepute".

European football governing body UEFA confirmed the latest measures on Monday and also announced that Russia's men's national team will not compete in the upcoming UEFA Nations League, meaning they will automatically finish bottom of Group 2 League B.

In the women's game, meanwhile, Russia's place in Group C at July's Euro 2022 finals will be taken by Portugal, the side they defeated in the play-offs.

Russia's women's side will also not partake in any of their remaining World Cup 2023 qualification matches. Group E will therefore continue as a group of five teams.

That is also the case for the men's Under-21s side, who will play no further part in qualifying for the next European Under-21 Championship.

Russia has withdrawn its appeal against a ban for its teams from FIFA competitions after World Cup qualifying continued without its senior men's national team.

Russian teams were suspended from FIFA and UEFA competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The FIFA sanction meant Valeri Karpin's Russia could not compete in their scheduled World Cup play-off semi-final against Poland.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) asked for the ban to be delayed, with that match set for late March, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected its request.

It meant Poland progressed to a final against Sweden, who had defeated the Czech Republic. Poland won to advance to Qatar 2022.

With that tie settled and Poland drawn into a World Cup group alongside Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, CAS announced on Tuesday the RFU had withdrawn its appeal last week.

Russia's challenges of various bans – including from UEFA – appear set to continue, however.

Russian teams will be welcomed back into world football immediately once the invasion of Ukraine ends, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has declared.

Infantino said FIFA "would be there the first day to play football again", as he spoke at the world governing body's congress in Qatar, this year's World Cup host country.

Infantino, who in 2019 was awarded an Order of Friendship medal by Russian president Vladimir Putin, said he was "devastated" by the news coming out of Ukraine.

But he said it was right that there was Russian representation at the congress, insisting the country's national federation had not been suspended by FIFA.

The country's national and club teams have been blocked from playing in FIFA and UEFA competitions, including the World Cup, but Infantino said it was important to maintain dialogue with federation officials.

Speaking in a news conference following the congress session, Infantino said: "I'm very sad of course for what is happening, and I'm as devastated as everyone."

He added: "We had to suspend Russia and Russian teams. It's not an easy decision of course, because it's about people who love football.

"We had to take the decisions, and now we have to look forward and hope the hostilities can stop, and we can bring a little bit of peace.

"The decision on Russia has been taken. The Russian Football Union has appealed the decision to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] so we are waiting for the result of the CAS deliberations.

"We will see what comes next. I sincerely hope the conflict can end, and we would be there the first day to play football again, because that's what I think is needed in this country.

"Russia as a football union, like any other federation, has not been suspended as such by FIFA, it has been participating in this congress as well."

Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, and now Qatar, whose qualification as suitable hosts has frequently been called into question, will stage the tournament in November and December of this year.

Asked whether Qatar would be awarded a World Cup based on what FIFA considers are now increasingly robust methods of deciding who should be hosts, Infantino initially distanced himself from the decision that was made in 2010, when Sepp Blatter was the governing body's president.

"When it comes to the Qatar World Cup, the decision has been taken now 12 years ago, when I was far away from FIFA happenings in these days," said Infantino, who was UEFA secretary general at the time.

"We've now put in place a different bidding process, which I think is also pretty unique, and I said in the past bulletproof. I hope it will continue to be bulletproof. It's open, it's transparent, it's professional and you know why you vote for somebody when you vote for somebody.

"This is what has happened for the men's World Cup in 2026 and for the women's World Cup in 2023.

"We still see even in these decisions there are political votes rather than factual-based votes. That's probably part of the game.

"When it comes to Qatar, the decision has been taken. We'll organise the best World Cup ever here in Qatar, and in any case we shouldn't go back. We should look forward, and we should look at what has happened.

"All the changes that have happened in this country in terms of workers' rights and human rights, and so on, would not have happened or certainly not at the same speed without the projectors of the World Cup being there."

Speaking about Qatar, whose records have been criticised by human rights organisations, Infantino said the tournament would "show to the world there are people living here, and you can come here and feel safe and be safe".

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dismissed the notion of Russia hosting Euro 2028 as "beyond satire", instead suggesting the tournament be awarded to Ukraine.

Russia launched a bid for either Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 on Wednesday, despite the country's ongoing invasion of their Eastern European neighbour.

That puts the 2018 World Cup hosts against a joint United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland bid for the former, an Italy bid for the latter and a Turkey bid for either event.

"The idea of Russia holding any idea of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire," Johnson said in Brussels, where a Nato summit addressing Vladimir Putin's invasion is taking place.

"I can’t believe that anybody would seriously consider their suggestion."

Johnson appeared to forget that his own country had bid for Euro 2028 when he subsequently suggested the best path would be to hand it to Ukraine, who jointly hosted Euro 2012 with Poland.

"I think the best thing possible would be for the entire Russian forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and hand the tournament to them," Johnson added.

Last year's rearranged Pan-European edition saw Italy triumph over England in a penalty shoot-out final at Wembley Stadium.

Hosts will be confirmed for 2028 and 2032 in September 2023, ahead of the next edition in Germany in 2024.

UEFA has confirmed it received declarations of interest from four potential bidders for hosting rights to Euro 2028 and Euro 2032.

The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland launched a joint-bid for Euro 2028 earlier on Wednesday, while a Russian official remarkably confirmed its own interest in holding either of the two tournaments.

Russia's teams are currently banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine, but the 2018 World Cup hosts pushed ahead regardless.

Turkey has joined Russia in announcing to UEFA its willingness to stage the European Championship in either 2028 or 2032.

While the two countries are up against the UK and Ireland in the first of the two finals, Italy is the other interested party four years later.

The hosts of the two tournaments will be announced in September 2023.

Russia has decided to apply to host Euro 2028 and Euro 2032 despite being banned from international football.

FIFA and UEFA suspended Russian national teams and clubs from competing following the country's invasion of Ukraine, pending an appeal the Russian Football Union (RFU) lodged to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Yet RFU executive committee member Sergey Anokhin has revealed Russia hopes to stage either the European Championship in 2028 or the next edition of the tournament four years later.

"The executive committee decided that we will apply for the European Championships in 2028 and Euro 2032," Anokhin said, as quoted by Sport Express.

The UK and Ireland submitted a joint expression of interest to host Euro 2028 ahead of Wednesday's deadline. It had been reported there would no rival bidders to the UK and Ireland for that tournament.

Russia hosted the World Cup four years ago, with France crowned champions.

 

A request from Russia to freeze the ban on its football teams in FIFA competitions has been turned down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

CAS made a similar announcement on Tuesday regarding UEFA competitions, and this latest decision all but confirms that Russia will not be a part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with their qualifying play-off semi-final due to be played next Thursday.

Russia had been scheduled to face Poland, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final of their play-off route.

Poland will now play either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic each announced they would refuse to play Russia due to the ongoing events in Ukraine.

The Russian Football Union lodged an appeal to CAS after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS confirmed on Friday that it has rejected that request, confirming that "the Challenged Decision remains in force" during proceedings.

A media release from CAS read: "The President of the Appeals Arbitration Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the request filed by the Football Union of Russia (FUR) to stay, for the duration of the CAS proceedings, the execution of the FIFA Council's decision to suspend all Russian teams and clubs from participation in its competitions until further notice (the Challenged decision).

"Accordingly, the Challenged Decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in FIFA competitions. The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A Panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions. No hearing has been fixed yet."

Russian football chiefs have failed in an attempt to suspend the ban on their teams appearing in UEFA competitions.

The Russian Football Union (FUR) lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS, which has yet to announce a schedule for the appeal hearing, has refused to put UEFA's sanctions on hold.

"The challenged decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in UEFA competitions," CAS said in a statement.

Spartak Moscow were Russia's only remaining representative in European club competition at the time of the decision, with opponents RB Leipzig receiving a bye to the Europa League quarter-finals.

Tuesday's CAS announcement only applies to UEFA competitions. Russia are hoping to overturn a FIFA ban that would potentially allow them to play in the World Cup.

Russia were due to face Poland in a qualifying play-off semi-final later this month, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final.

Should Russia fail in their challenge to that ruling, Poland will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have each announced they will refuse to play Russia due to ongoing events in Ukraine.

Russia captain Artem Dzyuba asked to not be included in the national's team's latest squad due to his family ties to Ukraine.

Last month, Russia began an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, much to the fury of the international community.

The response has been to hit Russia with wide-ranging sanctions, which have impacted Russian businesses and high-profile individuals.

There has also been a major reaction in the sporting world, with all Russian clubs and national teams banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice", meaning their senior men's team's World Cup play-off is cancelled.

But the Russian Football Union (RFU) has appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with Russia still holding out hope of facing Poland later this month.

With that in mind, Russia coach Valery Karpin still named a squad for the upcoming international window, though Dzyuba – who plays for Zenit, the club owned by majority state-controlled energy company, Gazprom – will not be present.

Karpin said: "We did meet with Artem at the end of Zenit's pre-season training camp, but, of course, there were no promises for a mandatory call. This applies not only to Dzyuba, but to all players.

"On Sunday, we talked to Artem on the phone, he assured that, as he said at the meeting, he really wants to play for the national team.

"But now, due to the difficult situation in Ukraine, where he has many relatives, he apologised and asked for family reasons not to call him to this gathering.

"We agreed that we will stay in touch with him and will follow his performances for Zenit."

 

Poland have been awarded a bye through to the World Cup qualifying play-off final following the postponement of their clash with Russia.

FIFA confirmed the news on Tuesday, though Russia have indicated that they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a ban on its national teams from competing.

Should the decision be upheld, Poland will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

That 'Path B' final will be held at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow on March 29.

FIFA's decision comes on the back of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic announcing last week they would each refuse to play Russia due to ongoing events in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday 24 following weeks of rising political tensions in the region, with more than two million citizens fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, FIFA has also confirmed that Ukraine's 'Path A' semi-final with Scotland at Hampden Park, scheduled for March 24, will now take place in June.

Ukraine requested that the game be pushed back due to "the impossibility of organising both the travel and training of a team under the current circumstances".

The other semi-final in that side of the draw, the clash between Wales and Austria in Cardiff on the same day, will go ahead as planned.

However, the final will be postponed until after the Scotland and Ukraine game is played.

FIFA has announced a series of temporary measures to facilitate the departure of players and coaches from Ukraine and Russia.

World football's governing body had already banned Russian clubs and teams from its competitions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, although Russia has since made clear its intention to appeal such sanctions.

FIFA has now confirmed a number of changes to registration and contract rules, designed to benefit players and staff who have been directly impacted by the conflict.

All contracts of foreign players and coaches working in Ukraine, FIFA has announced, will be automatically suspended until June 30, 2022, "in order to provide players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary [abroad], and to protect Ukrainian clubs."

Meanwhile, FIFA has also moved to make it easier for foreign coaches or players plying their trade in Russia to leave the country, should they wish to do so.

Foreign coaches or players will now have the right to unilaterally suspend their contracts with Russian clubs until the end of June this year. 

Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Roberto De Zerbi as well as a plethora of Brazilian players at the same club, are amongst those who could potentially seek to work outside of Ukraine for the remainder of the season.

The invasion of Ukraine has attracted widespread condemnation from across the sporting world, while two high-profile foreign Russian Premier League coaches suddenly left their posts after the invasion.

Former Norwich City boss Daniel Farke quit his role as Krasnodar coach last week without managing a single game, while Markus Gisdol left Lokomotiv Moscow, telling German newspaper BILD that he could not work in a nation "whose leader has invaded another country in the middle of Europe."

Reggae Boyz striker Shamar Nicholson was in fine form for Spartak Moscow on Wednesday, scoring a hat-trick in their 6-1 win over Kuban at the Otkritie Arena in the Round of 16 of the Russian Cup.

The former Boys Town and Charleroi striker got goals in the 20th, 62nd and 86th minutes to help Spartak advance.

Dutch international Quincy Promes also got two goals in the 6th and 17th minutes while Swedish striker Jordan Larsson, son of former Manchester United and Barcelona forward Henrik Larsson, got the other goal in the 83rd minute.

Spartak Moscow is 13-time winners of the Russian Cup, with their last triumph coming in the 2002-03 season.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has confirmed it is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following the suspension of its teams by FIFA and UEFA.

Russian clubs and national teams were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice" on Monday.

This decision followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week, which prompted rivals of its football team to vow they would not play Russia.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – opponents and potential opponents in the 2022 World Cup play-offs – threatened to withdraw from qualifying until FIFA and UEFA made the joint-announcement.

But the RFU, which "categorically disagreed with" its suspension and hinted at a challenge "in accordance with international sports law", has formalised an intention to appeal through CAS.

The ban, the RFU claims, "did not have a legal basis".

And Russia still hope to take part in the play-offs for the Qatar finals later this month, wanting a swift appeal process in which the RFU will also pursue compensation.

Russia had been set to host Poland on March 24, and the RFU's statement added it would ask for competitions its teams had been participating in to be delayed if a challenge could not be accelerated.

"The Russian Football Union will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne against the decision taken by FIFA and UEFA to suspend the Russian national teams from participating in international competitions," the statement read on Thursday.

"As part of a single lawsuit against the two organisations, the RFU will demand the restoration of all men's and women's national teams of Russia for all types of football in the tournaments in which they took part (including in the qualifying round of the World Cup in Qatar), as well as compensation for damage, if its presence is established.

"In order to ensure the possibility of participation of Russian teams in the next scheduled matches, the RFU will insist on an accelerated procedure for considering the case.

"If FIFA and UEFA refuse such a procedure, a demand will be put forward for the introduction of interim measures in the form of suspension of FIFA and UEFA decisions, as well as competitions in which Russian teams were supposed to participate.

"The RFU believes that FIFA and UEFA did not have a legal basis when deciding on the suspension of Russian teams. It violated the fundamental rights of the RFU as a member of FIFA and UEFA, including the right to take part in competitions.

"In addition, the decision to withdraw the national team from qualification for the 2022 World Cup was made under pressure from direct rivals in the play-offs, which violated the sporting principle and the rules of fair play.

"The Russian Football Union was also not granted the right to present its position, which violated the fundamental right to defence.

"In addition, when making decisions, FIFA and UEFA did not take into account other possible options for action, except for the complete exclusion of participants from Russia from the competition.

"Other details of the appeal, including the timing of the hearing of the claim, will be reported additionally."

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