FIFA has announced that it will suspend the contracts of foreign players currently tied to Ukrainian and Russian clubs for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
The Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory has prompted dozens of footballers to flee the country, while the league has been suspended indefinitely amid the conflict.
And while the Russian Premier League has restarted following its winter break, the world governing body will nevertheless offer players the chance to leave should they wish.
“Following the escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to an ongoing and distressing humanitarian crisis, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided, in coordination with UEFA and after consultation with various stakeholders, to temporarily amend the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) in order to provide legal certainty and clarity on a number of matters,” FIFA explained in a statement published on its official website.
“Concerning the situation in Ukraine, in order to provide players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary, and to protect Ukrainian clubs, unless the parties to the relevant contract explicitly agree otherwise, all employment contracts of foreign players and coaches with clubs affiliated to the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) will be deemed automatically suspended until the end of the season in Ukraine (30 June 2022), without the need for any action from the parties to this effect.”
As well as Ukraine, FIFA announced similar measures for its neighbour.
“In order to facilitate the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia, in the event that clubs affiliated to the Football Union of Russia (FUR) do not reach a mutual agreement with their respective foreign players and coaches before or on 10 March 2022 and unless otherwise agreed in writing, 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),” the statement added.
“The suspension of a contract as per the paragraphs above will mean that players and coaches will be considered “out of contract” until 30 June 2022 and will therefore be at liberty to sign a contract with another club without facing consequences of any kind.”
In another development, The Premier League has suspended its broadcast deal with Russia following the country’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
The move will take effect immediately, meaning tomorrow’s four matches will not be shown in the country.
The matter took only 15 minutes of a four-hour meeting of all 20 clubs in London yesterday to agree.
The English top flight also says it will donate £1m to support the people of Ukraine.
The TV rights for the Premier League were owned by the Rambler Group. The company was in its final year of a three-year deal to show matches in Russia.
In a separate move, the Football Association has also suspended its deal with Russia.
That means none of this month’s FA Cup quarter-final matches will be shown.
The Premier League says it condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that its clubs unanimously agreed the move.
In response to the Premier League’s announcement, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said it was “absolutely the right thing to do”.
He said in a statement: “We fully support the Premier League’s decision to stop broadcasting matches in Russia in response to Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia cannot be allowed to legitimise its illegal war through sport and culture, and we must work together to ensure Putin remains a pariah on the international stage.”