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Russia may participate in 2026 FIFA World Cup by joining AFC

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Moscow: The International Football Federation (FIFA) will not prevent Russia from participating in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers if Moscow joins the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Russian media reported.

Russian Football Union (RFU) President Aleksandr Dyukov said that the final decision on the transition to the AFC will be made at the RFU executive committee on December 27, Russian sports broadcaster Match TV reported.

If the decision is positive, Russia will have until December 31 to submit all the necessary documents to participate in the World Cup, the report read.

A Match TV source at FIFA said that the body’s stance could become a decisive argument in favor of the move to the AFC, the broadcaster added.

Moscow started considering joining the AFC after FIFA and the European Football Federation suspended Russian national football teams and clubs from participating in international tournaments in connection with Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Earlier in December, the Olympic Summit agreed that the International Olympic Committee should consider an initiative by the Olympic Council of Asia to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes who respect the Olympic Charter and sanctions to compete in Asian tournaments.

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