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35 countries demand ban on Russian sports federations

July 8, 2022

Germany and 34 other countries are demanding even tougher sanctions for Russian and Belarusian sports associations and officials. State Secretary Mahmut Özdemir says it's a "sign of solidarity with Ukraine."

Ukraine fans hold up an anti-war banner.
Ukrainian football fans at a World Cup Qualifier playoff in ScotlandImage: Andrew Milligan/PA Images/IMAGO

After 35 nations called for Russian and Belarusian governing bodies to be suspended from international sports federations, German politician Mahmut Özdemir reiterated the need for action.

"The federal government supports the second joint statement from 25 EU member states and 10 other states as a sign of our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian sport," Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior, Mahmut Özdemir told DW.

The SPD politician signed the declaration for Germany, which demands "Russian and Belarusian sport national governing bodies should be suspended from international federations."

State Secretary Mahmut Özdemir from the Federal Ministry of the InteriorImage: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

The International Olympic Committee and football'sFIFA and UEFA are the biggest sports federations in the world.

"The demands of the second joint statement are aimed at the international sports associations and umbrella organizations of sports," said Özdemir. "Only these can ultimately decide on the exclusion of their member organizations and officials from committees."

High-ranking officials also targeted

The declaration also called for those closely connected to the Russian or Belarusian state to be removed from important posts.

This doesn't just apply to government officials, but media companies who own rights to broadcast sporting events in both countries. 

The joint statement also said: "Russia's unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice against Ukraine, facilitated by the Belarusian government, is abhorrent and a flagrant breach of its international obligations. Respect for human rights and peaceful relations between nations form the basis of international sport."

Board members still active

Russian Football Union President Alexander DyukovImage: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Since the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine, many international sports federations have banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in international competitions.

However, the two countries' national federations are still largely part of organized sport. Former pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev are voting members of the IOC. While former Russian Olympic Committee boss Vitaly Smirnov and ex-swimming star Alexander Popov are honorary members.

President of the Russian Football Union Alexander Dyukov sits on UEFA's executive board and also holds a senior position at energy giant Gazprom.

Translated by Janek Speight