UEFA European Championship “shouldn’t be part of any sanctions”

Russia will host the Euros despite doping accusations

Although Russia can lose the right to host major international sporting events, such as the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championships, due to recommendations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it will be able to host the European Championship and Champions League.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin confirmed last week that Russia would be allowed to host European Championship soccer games, says BusinessMirror. Although WADA earlier recommended banning the country from hosting “major events” as part of sanctions over alleged tampering with doping records, the four European Championship games and the 2021 Champions League final won’t be affected.

The WADA committee has proposed a package of sanctions against Russia including a four-year ban on hosting major events and competing in top events like the Olympics. However, WADA’s spokesman James Fitzgerald explained that UEFA regarded the Euros not as a multisport major event or a world championship but rather a regional/continental single-sport event. “So it is not affected by this recommendation,” he said.

At the end of November, President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin in St Petersburg to discuss the future championship. According to UEFA, the meeting had been “planned for a long time” and was not brought about by the WADA recommendations. At the meeting, Čeferin complimented Russia for hosting last year’s World Cup, while the Russian president promised to do everything “not to let you down and not to let down the fans, the players”.

The European Championship is widely expected to be the world’s second most-watched sporting event next year after the Olympics in Tokyo. In 2016, the tournament’s final attracted 284,4 million of global average in-home audience. For St Petersburg, the European Championship will be the third major international sporting event in four years. The city has already hosted the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup.

Russia is accused of altering lab data to remove positive doping tests. According to Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, the agency's recommendations are “unpleasant for us”. “The Russian sports authorities have always been and will be fully open for cooperation with the international sports community and WADA. A detailed explanation has been given for the questions that have been asked,” said Peskov on 27 November. The country can lose the right to host sporting events like the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championships. WADA’s executive board will vote on the recommendation on 9 December.

By Anna Litvina

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