By ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer
LONDON (AP) — The global soccer union is calling on FIFA to allow foreign players based in Russia to permanently leave their clubs, though the governing body appears willing to allow only a temporary suspension of their contracts.
FIFPRO and the organization representing the world’s football leagues – the World Leagues Forum – have jointly written to FIFA asking for permission for players based in Russia to terminate their contracts. They were told players could only temporarily join another club until June 30, but then had to return to Russia.
A final decision is expected to be taken by the FIFA Bureau, which includes the presidents of the six regional confederations.
After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA suspended the country from international soccer matches 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 generally not be able to leave their clubs or sign for new ones outside of the two transfer periods of the year. FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann and his WLF counterpart Jerome Perlemuter wrote to FIFA last week to raise the issue of allowing players to pursue their careers in another country.
“These foreign players may rightly consider that they no longer wish to represent a Russian team,” wrote Baer-Hoffmann and Perlemuter to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, “and should be able to terminate their contract with their employer immediately. without facing any sanctions whatsoever from international bodies and to be registered with a new club without being restricted by the regulations on the transfer period.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino enjoys close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup. FIFA declined to answer detailed questions from The Associated Press about Russia at the over the past week or if Infantino has been in contact with Putin, who awarded him the medal of the Russian Order of Friendship.
Russian clubs are already seeing foreigners leave, including two German coaches. Daniel Farke left FC Krasnodar after seven weeks on the job and Markus Gisdol left Lokomotiv Moscow.
The Ukrainian league was suspended with war engulfing the country.
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