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International

FIFA Set to Let Foreign Players Leave Russia until June

LONDON — The global soccer union is asking FIFA to allow foreign players based in Russia to leave their clubs permanently, although the governing body looks set to only permit a temporary suspension of their contracts.

FIFPRO and the organization representing the world’s soccer leagues — the World Leagues Forum — jointly wrote to FIFA seeking permission for Russia-based players to terminate their contracts. They have been told that players can only temporarily join another club until June 30 but must then return to Russia.

A final decision is set to be taken by the FIFA Bureau, which features the presidents of the six regional confederations.

After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA suspended the country from international soccer games last week but has yet to suspend its soccer federation or officials.

But the umbrella organization representing European leagues has already expelled Russia’s top leagues as members.

There are hundreds of foreign players in Russia who would typically not be able to leave their clubs or sign for new ones outside the two transfer trading periods in the year. FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann and WLF counterpart Jerome Perlemuter wrote to FIFA last week to raise the issue of allowing the players to continue their careers in another country.

“These foreign players may rightfully consider that they are not willing to represent any longer a Russian team,” Baer-Hoffmann and Perlemuter wrote to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, “and should be able to immediately terminate their contract with their employer without facing any sanction whatsoever from international bodies and to be registered in a new club without being restricted by transfer period regulations.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia staged the 2018 World Cup. FIFA has declined to respond to questions from The Associated Press in detail about Russia over the last week or whether Infantino has been in contact with Putin, who awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship medal.

Russian clubs are already seeing foreigners leave, including two German coaches. Daniel Farke quit FC Krasnodar after seven weeks in the job and Markus Gisdol left Lokomotiv Moscow.

Ukraine’s league has been suspended with war engulfing the country.

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