FIFA allowing foreign players to break contracts in Russia


World football’s governing body has announced it will allow foreign players to break their contracts with Russian clubs amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Soccer players’ union FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum (WLF), an organization that represents world soccer leagues, asked FIFA for permission for Russian-based players to leave their clubs. 

“In order to facilitate the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia,” FIFA wrote, “the foreign players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts with the FUR-affiliated clubs in question until the end of the season in Russia (30 June 2022).”

FIFA’s decision will affect 100 players who currently compete for Russian clubs, according to The New York Times. Starting June 30, those players will set aside their contracts and sign with new clubs, unless they reach an agreement with their Russian clubs by March 10. 

In its letter to FIFA, FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann and his WLF counterpart Jerome Perlemuter wrote that foreign players are not comfortable playing in Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine, according to The Associated Press

Russian clubs are allowed to have up to eight foreign players on their roster, also referred to as legionnaires. 

“These foreign players may rightfully consider that they are not willing to represent any longer a Russian team and should be able to immediately terminate their contract with their employer without facing any sanction whatsoever from international bodies and to be registered in a new club without being restricted by transfer period regulations,” the representatives wrote in their letter.

Russian club FC Krasnodar announced last week that it would allow its foreign players and coaching staff to suspend their contracts, the Times reported.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to escalating sanctions from foreign governments and a wide range of private firms pulling out of the country, from tech platforms to credit card companies and global consultancies.

FIFA announced last week that it has imposed an indefinite ban on Russia’s national team, preventing it from participating in all competitions, including the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

Russia’s national team was set to compete against Poland for a World Cup qualifying match in March, but Poland’s national team refused to play Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine, which borders Poland. 

Russian officials have argued that FIFA does not have legal standing to eject it from the competition.

Tags FIFA FIFA Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict soccer World Leagues Forum
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