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U.S. Soccer announces refusal to play Russia as FIFA suspends Russian teams from play

One of the first non-UEFA federations to issue a declaration against Russia.

U.S. Soccer has joined the scores of soccer federations around the world in taking a stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Today, U.S. Soccer released a statement with the hashtag “#WeStandWithUkraine” where they denounced the Russia invasion of Ukraine while also declaring that they will not take the field against Russia in any competition “until freedom and peace have been restored.” They are believed to be the first non-UEFA team to make such a declaration.

The U.S. Soccer announcement came just a couple hours before FIFA and UEFA announced that they were suspending all Russian national and club teams from FIFA and UEFA competitions “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people,” said FIFA and UEFA in the joint statement.

With this suspension, the Russian men’s national team would not be eligible to participate in the World Cup playoff set to take place next month. They were placed in a bracket with Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, all of whom were the first to declare that they would not take the field against Russia. The Russian women’s national team were set to play in Women’s Euro 2022 this summer, drawn into a group with the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Under this new ruling, both teams would be expelled from those competitions.

The USMNT had not played Russia since a November 2012 friendly in Kradnosar, a 2-2 draw. The USWNT had played Russia more recently, with 2 matches in April 2017 in Texas. There were no plans for either team to play each other in friendly matches, but the USMNT and Russia had the potential to be drawn in a group with each if both made it to the 2022 World Cup. That appears to no longer be a possibility, though any end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine could prompt a change in course by soccer’s governing body.