Sources: Russia-Serbia match set to be approved

Russia are expected to be granted clearance from FIFA and UEFA to play European opposition for the first time since being suspended from competitive football in 2022 after striking an agreement to face Serbia in March 2024, sources have told ESPN.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has been banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions since the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with all national teams prohibited from competing in the World Cup and European Championships, while all Russian clubs continue to be excluded the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

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But although the ban prevents Russia from playing in competitive fixtures, they remain free to play in friendly fixtures and Serbia, England’s opening opponents at Euro 2024 next summer, have agreed to play the Russians next March according to the official RFU account on X, formerly Twitter.

“The national teams of Russia and Serbia have reached an agreement to hold a friendly match in March 2024,” the RFU post said. “This was stated by the President of the RFU Alexander Dyukov.”

ESPN has spoken to sources at FIFA and UEFA and been told that, while the fixture has yet to be sanctioned by the world and continental governing bodies, there are no restrictions on Russia playing friendly fixtures so the proposed game is unlikely to be blocked from taking place.

Since being banned by FIFA, Russia has played a small number of friendly games, hosting Iraq, Cameroon and Cuba in Russia as well as away games against Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,Uzbekistan, Iran, Qatar and Kenya.

Sources have said that the Serbia friendly is pencilled in for St Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena — the venue that was due to host the 2022 Champions League final before being stripped of the game by UEFA, who moved the fixture to Stade de France in Paris.

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