Russia have declared an interest in rivalling the UK and Ireland for the right to host Euro 2028 despite their current ban from international football.
Russian clubs and national teams are currently suspended by FIFA and UEFA over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, pending the outcome of an appeal by the Football Union of Russia (RFU) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
However, that did not stop the union’s executive committee giving its backing for a bid to host either Euro 2028 or 2032 on the last day for expressions of interest.
A post on the union’s official website outlined a number of results from Wednesday’s executive committee meeting which included to “support the decision to declare interest in hosting the European Championship 2028 or 2032 in Russia”.
Alexander Dyukov, the RFU president, said at a press conference: “The executive committee (of the RFU) has decided to submit a declaration of interest in hosting UEFA EURO 2028 & UEFA EURO 2032.
“Submitting the declaration, we proceed from the fact that Russia is well prepared to host large international competitions, enjoys all the required infrastructure and experience in staging large tournaments at the highest level. The deadline for submitting the declaration is 12 April 2023.
“This decision does not impose any obligations on us, however we must use every opportunity to communicate with FIFA and UEFA, struggle for every chance to host major tournaments.
“If we do nothing, then we will definitely have nothing. We realise that currently the chances have decreased, and yet, if they do exist, you have to seize them.”
Russia successfully hosted the 2018 World Cup but has been exiled from the international sports community since its invasion of Ukraine a month ago, with UEFA having already stripped St Petersburg of hosting rights for this season’s men’s Champions League final.
UEFA issued a statement shortly after the deadline for declarations of interest passed at 5pm UK time, confirming the bids for 2028 and 2032. It announced interest in 2028 from the UK and Ireland, Russia and Turkey, while Russia, Turkey and Italy have expressed interest in 2032.
While Russian teams and clubs are suspended from international competition under the FIFA and UEFA banners, the Russian federation is not as things stand and can therefore bid for the tournaments, though UEFA intends to keep the federation’s status under review.
Senior sources within UEFA have expressed concern over Russia’s interest to the PA news agency, and hope the bid is quickly dismissed.
A statement from European football’s governing body read: “The UEFA executive committee will remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required – in addition to its already-scheduled meetings of April 7 and May 10 – to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary, including in light of the declaration of interest expressed by the Russian Football Union for hosting the UEFA EURO.”
The British Government was understood to be awaiting UEFA’s statement on Russia’s interest in bidding before issuing any response of its own.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, has been working with her counterparts in other countries to build an international coalition with the aim of preventing Russia from using sport to legitimise its regime in any way.
The Russian federation failed in its attempts to have the suspension imposed by FIFA and UEFA on its national teams and clubs stayed by CAS until the full appeal was heard.
It means Russia are almost certainly out of the World Cup, with their original play-off semi-final opponents Poland given a bye to the final, where they will face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.
Earlier, a joint statement from the five associations behind the UK and Ireland bid had set out how they felt their candidacy offered “something special to European football” and that the bid had the ability to manage any expansion of the tournament from 24 to 32 teams, as is widely expected to happen.
The statement said the bid had the support of the respective governments, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted enthusiastically in support of the expression of interest.
However, one of his party MPs, Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, struck a more cautionary tone.
“I really welcome this bid – it’s a lot more realistic than any attempt to get the World Cup. However, we shouldn’t kid ourselves,” he told the PA news agency.
“The FA’s management of the Euro 2020 finals nearly ended in tragedy and we are seeing through the idiocy of making fans of Liverpool and Man City traipse to London with no trains just how woeful the decision-making is at the FA more generally.
“We need to be sure that, should we host the Euros, that the FA is up to the job, and I’m not sure, to be honest.”