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FIFA says foreign players can leave Ukraine and Russia

Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announced on Monday.

Sports bodies have barred Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine and FIFA said the new measures were designed “to facilitate the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia” should they wish to leave.

“Foreign players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts until the end of the season in Russia (June 30),” world football’s governing body said in a statement. 

“Players and coaches will be considered ‘out of contract’ until 30 June 2022 and will therefore be at liberty to sign a contract with another club without facing consequences of any kind.”

The contacts will be suspended until the end of this season allowing players and coaches to work elsewhere, and they would then be free to move on permanently next season.

FIFA explained the move was chiefly to provide players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary, and to protect Ukrainian clubs brought to a halt by invasion.

Minor players fleeing Ukraine will be treated by FIFA as refugee minors, allowing them access to the international transfer market normally closed to under-18s. 

FIFA who have already banned Russia from the 2022 World Cup but risk an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), “reiterated its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in Ukraine” and called for “a speedy cessation of hostilities”.

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