ZURICH (AP) — FIFA extended a rule Monday that lets players and coaches continue to suspend their contracts with clubs in Ukraine and Russia for another season, even while it faces a legal challenge from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.
FIFA first passed the temporary measure less than two weeks after Russia’s war in Ukraine started in February 2022, saying it was “to protect foreign players and coaches who have left the territory of Ukraine or Russia due to the conflict and who do not wish to currently return in view of the circumstances.”
It was renewed one year ago and will now be extended through June 2024, though not for players and coaches who joined clubs in those countries or extended their existing contracts after the first FIFA decision in March last year.
The FIFA rule is unpopular with Ukrainian and Russian clubs who said letting their players leave on loan left them with no protection and cost millions of dollars in lost transfer fees.
Separate legal challenges were lost by Shakhtar and a group of Russian clubs at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which in January upheld the FIFA rule.
Shakhtar was seeking 50 million euros ($54 million) in compensation from FIFA and has since filed a complaint with the European Commission.
The clubs said it took its case to Brussels “given the importance and reliance of FC Shakhtar to undertake transfer market trading with players within the European Union.”
Shakhtar last year lost its coach Roberto De Zerbi, who was later hired by Brighton and excelled in leading the English Premier League club to a first qualification for a European competition.
Napoli’s standout winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was playing in Russia with Rubin Kazan at the start of the war and was able to leave for a club in Georgia. He later signed for Napoli and helped the club win its first Italian league title in 33 years.
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