Russia opts out of Central Asian football Championship

The Russian football team, denied international competition due to the invasion of Ukraine, will not take part in the inaugural edition of the Central Asian Championships despite being slated.

Russia was invited but declined the invitation this week, claiming it was due to a packed fixture list despite being banned from their competitions by UEFA and FIFA.

However, national coach Valery Karpin gave a different reason, saying he was concerned about injuries to his players due to high temperatures and artificial pitches.

As a result the draw proceeded with only seven teams for Wednesday’s friendly in Dushanbe: Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as special guest Oman.

The draw took place days before a visit to Tajikistan by FIFA supremo Gianni Infantino.

Kazakhstan would also be missing as they are a member of UEFA and not the Asian Football Confederation.

Russia remains a member of UEFA despite being threatened with defections to the AFC and being banned from Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Since being banned by UEFA and FIFA following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, 2018 World Cup hosts Russia have played four friendlies against Central Asian opposition – winning one and drawing the other three.