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Russia To Appeal Soccer Ban To CAS, Legal Expert Explains Likely Arguments

INTERNATIONAL: The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Tuesday 8TH March the Russian Football Union will appeal its ban by FIFA and UEFA from the club and international soccer. As well as seeking to overturn the ban, the RFU is also seeking a 'stay' that would allow its teams to compete pending a full decision.

Last week a legal expert told Reuters that FIFA and UEFA have a strong case that allowing Russia to participate in international and club football competitions amounts to a 'force Majeure and the current ban should remain in place.

Both soccer governing bodies banned Russia, preventing the men's national team from continuing with their World Cup qualifying campaign and the women's team from taking part in this summer's European Championships. Russian participation in European club competitions was also affected.

The sanctions followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the widespread global condemnation that followed.

Legal expert Antoine Duval, a senior researcher at Holland Asser Institute and an expert in sports law, said on Friday (March 4) that letting Russian teams compete could seriously undermine FIFA and UEFA tournaments because other teams could threaten to pull out.

"Then we are looking at dispute that will focus on the question whether there is a force majeure and that on the Russian side, there will be arguments coming in about what about all the other wars, why us basically why this war is particular or specific in constituting force majeure."

"A line of argument that could be used by the Russian Federations, to say well why not suspend those games, we understand the situation is particular, there is a lot of outrage there are security risks, for also our teams for participating in those competitions. We would ask however not to be withdrawn from the competition but to postpone those competitions to a later date, let's say in two months or something and here there could be another type of debate that will be ongoing before the CAS, whether this is possible, it would not hinder the good organization of the competition, and so on. Obviously, when you look at the Europa League involving Spartak Moscow, it's going to be more difficult because the competition is moving forward. So here the argument might stick much less. If you look at the World Cup, maybe there is more room for that. So that might be the type of argument that might be advanced."

"In general, there is a clear, I would say difference between PR or social sentiments, and legal decisions. And I think there is, but I also think that quotes are not totally out of context. They are also embedded in a social situation, and they are aware of the particular situation. At this point, the particular outrage, and that I think then connects as well with the reasoning around force majeure. I mean that in my view it's not a bad argument you know it's not a legally totally flawed argument to ground those suspensions on the issue of force majeure. Because FIFA and UEFA are facing an existential threat to their competitions due to this situation, this existential threat is a total boycott. And the only way to deal with those existential threats is indeed at this point to bar the Russian competitors from those competitions. So there is a real case that can be built around that, those provisions, linked to a force majeure, and it would be also legally sound."

"FIFA and UEFA are facing an existential threat to their competitions due to this situation, and this existential threat is a total boycott," he said.

"And the only way to deal with those existential threats is indeed at this point to bar the Russian competitors from those competitions. So, there is a real case that can be built around that, those provisions, linked to a force majeure, and it would be also legally sound."

Duval added that Russia may argue that other countries at war have not been banned in the past, and that postponing World Cup qualifiers, or leaving any decision over disqualification until as late as possible, would be more proportional.



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