The president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), Alexander Dyukov, has revealed that there is a possibility for Russia’s national team to participate in qualification matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. This comes as Russian football teams continue to face sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA due to the country’s conflict with Ukraine.
In an interview with Match TV at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, Dyukov stated, “There is a possibility of moving to the Asian Confederation. We keep it in mind, based on the fact that after some time, it is important for us to start playing official matches.” This statement refers to reports from last year that the RFU was considering leaving UEFA and joining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to compete in their infrastructure and potentially be eligible for World Cup qualification matches.
However, Dyukov clarified that they are currently in negotiations with UEFA and not actively considering a transition to the Asian Confederation. He said, “We are currently negotiating with UEFA. We are not negotiating a transition to the Asian Confederation.” It appears that the RFU is exploring all options and keeping the possibility of moving to the AFC as a backup plan.
The main goal for the RFU is to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Dyukov emphasized that this is their “main task.” Unfortunately, there has been no progress in talks with UEFA regarding Russia’s return to European football. A decision regarding the RFU’s future will be made by the end of the year, but Dyukov made it clear that without official consent from UEFA, the confederation cannot be changed.
Dyukov also noted that in order to participate in the World Cup qualifying matches, they need confirmation and consent from FIFA, which they currently do not have. When asked if the chances of Russia participating in the World Cup in three years are lost, Dyukov responded with “not yet,” indicating that they are still working towards that goal.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino commented on the matter, saying “we’ll see” when asked about the chances of Russia competing in the 2026 World Cup. It remains uncertain whether Russia will be able to participate in the tournament.
In other news, Dyukov announced that Russia is expected to host a friendly match against Cameroon on October 12. The fixture will most likely take place at Moscow’s 26,000-capacity VTB Arena.
Overall, while Russia’s national and club sides are currently facing sanctions, there is still hope for their participation in the upcoming World Cup. The RFU is exploring various options, including a potential move to the Asian Confederation, and negotiations with UEFA are ongoing. The final decision regarding Russia’s future in international football will be made by the end of the year.