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UEFA bans Russian women from European Championship and 2023 World Cup

Supporters of Ukraine hold a banner protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin during an April charity match between host Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv. (Martin Meissner/AP)

The Russian national women’s soccer team will not be allowed to compete in this year’s European Championship and has been removed from qualifying for next year’s Women’s World Cup.

Those decisions, announced Monday by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), represent an expansion of measures taken by international governing bodies for soccer in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. UEFA also announced Monday that men’s and women’s club teams from Russia will be banned from next season’s Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League tournaments.

UEFA said its executive committee chose to implement several measures regarding upcoming competitions “to ensure their smooth staging in a safe and secure environment for all those concerned.” Those measures stem from decisions by UEFA and global governing body FIFA in February to suspend Russia indefinitely from international competition.

The Russian women had already qualified for the European Championship, scheduled to begin July 6 in England, after defeating Portugal in a qualifying playoff. Portugal takes Russia’s place in the main draw, UEFA said, and will join a group that also features the Netherlands, the defending champion, as well as Sweden and Switzerland.

They support Ukraine. So they can’t support Alex Ovechkin.

In addition, Russia’s bids to host the 2028 or 2032 men’s European Championships were ruled ineligible. UEFA pointed to a passage in its regulations stating that “each bidder shall ensure that it does not act in a manner that could bring UEFA, the UEFA final or UEFA final phase, any other bidder … or European football into disrepute.”

The removal of Russia from the men’s Champions League means Scotland’s Celtic and Rangers will battle for a chance to replace Zenit St. Petersburg in next season’s group stage.

In March, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal from Russia’s soccer federation to overturn its FIFA ban. That effectively ended Russia’s hopes of competing in this year’s men’s World Cup, which will be staged in Qatar this fall.

After its men’s World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal was delayed from March because of the invasion, Ukraine is set to face host Scotland on June 1. The winner will advance to a June 5 matchup with host Wales, and at stake will be a chance to join the United States, England and Iran in a main-draw group.