UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Wednesday visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg, Russia, after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that the country would be allowed to host UEFA European Championship soccer games.
WADA’s compliance review committee has proposed banning Russia from hosting “major events” as part of a package of sanctions over alleged tampering with doping records. WADA’s executive board is to vote on the recommendation on Dec. 9.
However, four European Championship games and the 2021 UEFA Champions League final, also in Saint Petersburg, are not covered.
“As regards UEFA, the Euros is not a multisport major event or a world championship, but rather a regional/continental single-sport event,” WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald told reporters by e-mail. “So it is not affected by this recommendation.”
Putin discussed European Championship hosting plans with Ceferin ahead of a Champions League game in the city.
“We will do everything so as not to let you down and not to let down the fans, the players,” Putin was quoted as saying in a Kremlin transcript.
The meeting had been “planned for a long time” and was not brought about by the WADA recommendations, UEFA said.
It did not comment on whether Putin and Ceferin had discussed the doping issue.
Ceferin complimented Russia for its hosting of last year’s FIFA World Cup, the Kremlin transcript showed.
The European Championship means that Saint Petersburg would be hosting a major international event for the third time in four years after the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and last year’s World Cup.
Incoming WADA president Witold Banka, who takes office on Jan. 1, agreed with Fitzgerald’s assessment that the Euros should not be part of any sanctions and expressed shock at Russia’s behavior.
“The report is truly frightening, because in fact a manipulation has taken place, some of the data has been removed,” Banka told Polish radio station RMF FM.
“Russia had a state system of supporting doping and manipulating data. WADA forensic experts have proven that, at the time when Russia was offered a chance to cleanse the situation, a manipulation took place,” he added.
The European Championships are widely expected to be the second most-watched sporting event in the world next year after the Tokyo Olympics, based on TV viewing.
Research into the 2016 tournament found that the final attracted 284.4 million as an “average in-home global audience” — the industry-standard audit tracking viewers minute-by-minute — and that 600 million viewers watched at least some of Portugal’s 1-0 win over France.
UEFA is not a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code, but Europe’s soccer governing body is a subsidiary of FIFA, which has signed up to the code. UEFA also runs its own anti-doping program.
Instead of the European Championship or the Champions League, Russia could lose the right to host lower-profile events like the 2021 beach soccer world cup, the 2022 wrestling world championships or the 2023 ice hockey world championships.
Russia is accused of altering lab data to remove positive tests, at a time when the data was held by Russian law enforcement. Handing over the data was meant to clear up past cover-ups and smooth Russia’s way back into global sports after years doping scandals.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there