Russian teams won’t play in Under-17 Euros qualifying after UEFA fails to make new policy work

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Russia will not after all be allowed to play in Under-17 European Championship qualifying games this month, European soccer body UEFA said Tuesday.

So much opposition from member federations to playing Russia at any level of international games left UEFA going back to the status quo, which it had controversially tried to change two weeks ago.

UEFA had surprisingly on Sept. 26 eased its policy imposed within days of Russia invading Ukraine last year that all the country’s national and club teams be excluded from international competitions.

The move provoked a split in UEFA’s executive committee — its vice presidents from England, Poland and Wales refused to back the proposal — and at least 12 of the 55 member federations said their teams would continue to refuse to play games against Russia.

For the last two weeks, UEFA staff explored inserting Russia into its men’s and women’s youth competitions despite having already drawn the qualifying groups. Each group was due to play all its games spread over several days in a single host country.

After another executive committee meeting on Tuesday, UEFA said “the agenda point was withdrawn as no technical solution to allow Russian teams to play could be found.”

UEFA’s updated decision came after awarding its men’s Euro 2028 hosting rights to the United Kingdom and Ireland, whose members have opposed playing Russia, and the 2032 edition to Italy and Turkey, whose executive committee members had supported the pro-Russia move.

“We have made ourselves really clear on Russia,” English Football Association CEO Mark Bullingham told reporters at UEFA headquarters. “From our understanding nothing has changed.”

UEFA leaders, including its president Aleksander Ceferin, did not meet with reporters Tuesday.

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