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Sports organizations are benching Russian teams over the attack on Ukraine

As the attack on Ukraine continues, sports leagues and organizations have begun to sideline Russia's sports teams. On Monday, the International Olympic Committee recommended that international sports federations not allow Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials to participate in international competition "to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants."

Several leagues have adopted measures along those lines, benching Russian teams and also moving scheduled events out of the country while condemning Russia's actions. Here's a look at what has happened so far:

1. IOC

The IOC's executive board, in its recommendation to not allow Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials to participate, said in a statement that it was moving "to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants."

If that is not possible because of short notice, the IOC urged organizations to "do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus. Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colors, flags or anthems should be displayed."

The IOC stopped short of an outright ban and has not suspended either country.

2. FIFA and UEFA

FIFA, soccer's global governing body announced Monday that it was suspending all Russian teams, both national and club squads, from international competition until further notice. In a joint statement by FIFA and UEFA, which oversees the game in Europe, the groups said they hoped "the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

The Russian Football Union said in a statement that it would challenge the decision "in accordance with international sports law." The day before, FIFA had issued an initial set of penalties that banned Russia from using its flag, anthem and name at matches, a move that would have forced the team to compete as "Football Union of Russia."

That statement also noted that no international games could be played in Russia and that Russia's "home games" had to be played at neutral sites with no fans. Russia was scheduled to host Poland and possibly Sweden or the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifiers in March, but the other three teams said they would not play.

UEFA joined FIFA in Monday's announcement by announcing that Russian teams were suspended from international competition, including at the Champions League and the second-tier Europa League. UEFA had followed the same protocol as FIFA with Sunday's sanctions barring the flag, anthem and name.

Spartak Moscow, a men's team that had advanced to the round of 16 of the Europa League, is no longer eligible. Its opponent, RB Leipzig, will advance to the quarterfinals.

Last week, UEFA moved the Champions League final, the world's biggest club match, from St. Petersburg to suburban Paris on May 28.

3. NHL

The National Hockey League announced Monday that it was suspending relationships with business partners in Russia, pausing Russian language social and digital sites and not considering Russia as a location for future events.

The league expressed sympathy for the NHL's Russian players but not for the country itself, saying, "We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position."


The International Ice Hockey Federation suspended all Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from IIHF competitions of all ages. They also withdrew the hosting rights of the 2023 world junior championships from Russia upon urging from the hockey federations of Switzerland, Latvia and Finland.

The decision affects participation by Russia and Belarus in six IIHF events in 2022, including the men's and women's world championships and the men's and women's under-18 championships.

5. World Curling Federation

The WCF's board is beginning the process of removing Russian Curling Federation entries from the upcoming world championships.

The organization added a new rule that allows the board to "remove a team or Member Association from any WCF event if in the sole opinion of the Board their presence at the event would damage the event or put the safety of the participants or the good order of the event at risk." Barring any objections in the coming days, the board will remove all Russian curling teams.

6. World Rugby

The Dublin-based governing body for rugby union, which says it comprises 128 national member federations, stated Monday that it was barring Russia and Belarus from all international and cross-border club play. In addition, Russia's rugby union organization is suspended from World Rugby membership until further notice.World Rugby said it was taking action to "protect the rugby family and take a strong stance against the conflict."