Russia could move from UEFA to Asian Football Confederation – how Israel changed the confederation, FIFA Conference

In Russia, the transition from UEFA to Asia is being discussed. Israel’s experience shows that this is possible

Dmitry Zimin

Is it possible for Russia to leave UEFA?

It is true that the Israelis have moved in the opposite direction – from Asia to Europe.

On Thursday, March 31, in Doha, the FIFA Congress will finally approve the future of the Russian team and clubs in international competitions. Journalist Nobel Arustamian referred to various scenarios for the country: from a ban for a certain period of time and an indefinite suspension to a change of confederation. According to our information, our football authorities are not currently considering the transfer of RFU to Asia. But to say that this choice is fantasy is impossible.

Russia is now part of UEFA. And few people are happy about it. Teams from Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, refusing to play in the playoffs, showed the general attitude of the Europeans to what is happening in Ukraine. Therefore, such a scenario is not ruled out: first, Russia will be expelled from UEFA (no right of return in the near future) and FIFA (for a certain period), and then they will be allowed to recover in another confederation, for example the Asian. Simply because other European countries will not want to play with Russia, despite our desire. A similar case has already been used by Israel, which 30 years ago replaced Asia with Europe. Let’s look at his case.

The Legionnaires leave the RPL, but not the national team.  Karpin has unique Spanish assistants
The Legionnaires leave the RPL, but not the national team. Karpin has unique Spanish assistants

Israel in Asia: Victories Against the Background of the War

Israel made its international debut as an independent state only in 1948. And in 1954 it joined the newly formed Asian Football Confederation. It is true that few people guessed what problems this would lead to. The Arab-Israeli conflict (the confrontation between the League of Arab States and Israel over territories) was gaining momentum. And the meetings of the warring countries with each other seemed nonsense. However, they endured for 18 years, although there were different things: the refusal of some opponents from matches, boycotts that almost ended in conflict.

Israel - Germany match

Israel – Germany match

Photo: Alex Grimm / Getty Images

But all this did not stop Israel from showing good results: four times in a row the team entered the winners of the Asian Cup and in 1964 even won the main tournament of the national teams. But there is a caveat: the tournament was held in Israel itself, so many countries just did not come to it. Also in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Israeli clubs won the AFC Champions League three times. In 1970, Israel reached the World Cup final for the first time in its history and scored two points in the group.

All this time, Israel has been involved in armed conflict. In 1967 the Six Day War broke out and in 1973 the Yom Kippur War broke out. In 1974, Israel’s presence in the AFC was already impossible. The political pressure of the Arab countries on the football authorities was very strong. And Israel was excluded.

No medals, no titles: how are things in UEFA?

For the next 20 years, Israel did not formally register with international football federations. At the time, UEFA did not really want to see a conflict state. However, Israel regularly participated in international tournaments and mainly interacted with Oceania, where it was happy to see such a strong team.

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Only in 1992 did UEFA accept Israel into its circle – first as a temporary member and two years later – in full. However, the country could only dream of previous achievements – not a single exit to the finals of the European and World Championships. In the early years, the team generally played matches on a neutral ground due to the sharp collision. And the best achievement of the team was the second place in the selection for Euro 2000. It is true that in the playoffs the Israelis lost to Denmark with a total score of 0: 8. At club level, things were a little better – Maccabi and Hapoel once reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

There have been some successes at the youth level: the U21 team reached the Euro 2006 final and the U16 team even won the bronze at Euro 1996. In 2013, Israel hosted the final part of the European Youth Championship.

Spain at Euro Youth in Israel

Spain at Euro Youth in Israel

Photo: Alex Grimm / Getty Images

Larger tournaments are not given in the country, because the conflict that started last century is still ongoing.

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