Fifa urged to reopen transfer window and give players in Russia escape route – The Guardian

Last modified on Thu 3 Mar 2022 22.13 GMT
Players in Russia who want to move to another country because of the invasion of Ukraine should be granted an emergency reopening of the transfer window, according a new idea being proposed to Fifa.
The Polish Football Association, which has led opposition to continued Russian involvement in international competition since the outbreak of war, has written to Fifa making the suggestion, with hundreds of foreign players playing their club football in Russia.
The Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskyi has left Zenit Saint Petersburg and more players are expected to follow at other clubs, with Poland’s Grzegorz Krychowiak hoping to be allowed to leave Krasnodar. This week too the manager of Lokomotiv Moscow, Markus Gisdol, left his role, as did Daniel Farke, the former Norwich manager who had recently joined Krasnodar. Both managers expressed concerns over working in Russia during the invasion.
The imposition of global sanctions has seen a collapse in the value of the rouble, meaning that some clubs are struggling to pay players’ wages, with contracts commonly agreed in euros. Some high-profile players may see their contracts cancelled, but a plan to reopen the window would see all contracted players given the opportunity to negotiate deals elsewhere.
Fifa were approached by the Guardian for comment.
European football bodies have this week been concentrating on trying to help players in the Ukrainian league reach safety, one small part of the growing migrant crisis caused by the war. On Thursday the president of Uefa, Aleksander Ceferin, said the war was the “most terrible situation” and that the “madness” of the conflict must stop.
“I was on the phone for 48 hours with clubs and coaches to get them out of the Ukraine,” Ceferin told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit. “It’s hard for me to explain how sad those conversations were. One of the players who left Ukraine came to my home, another came today. They told me about their children and about the bombs exploding outside their home. I am proud of the football family that we stood together to do our part. The football part. It’s really hard to say what will happen tomorrow but this war should stop, this madness should stop.”
Ceferin said it was “impossible” to say under what circumstances the ban on Russian football might be reversed. “For now it stays and we are waiting for peace to come,” he said. “Football will probably be the least important thing.”
Uefa has moved the Champions League final from Russia and cancelled its longstanding sponsorship deal with Gazprom. It has previously sought to steer clear of making decisions that could be seen as political, including during the men’s European Championship last summer when it refused a request to illuminate Munich’s Allianz Arena in the colours of the rainbow flag.
Also speaking at the Football Summit, the general secretary of the players’ union Fifpro, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, said the current crisis meant that football could no longer claim to sit outside of politics. “I think sport has to accept that the idea you make an institution apolitical is just a myth,” Hoffman said. “Because what people do with it makes it political. If Putin decides it’s not apolitical it’s not.
“Football should stand for values of peace freedom sovereignty, human rights but also equality. The rainbow flag is a political decision.”
On the day the UK culture minister held a meeting with international sports bodies to discuss tightening sanctions and heightening consequences for Russian sporting bodies, the chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Masters, said the competition was reviewing its deals with Russian broadcast companies.
“It’s clearly under review,” he said. “I would like the Russian people to see the strength of feeling. We will look at it very closely re suspension and termination. We are looking at it right now.”

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