Russia will be readmitted to European U17 competitions for the first time since the country’s invasion of Ukraine 19 months ago, Uefa has confirmed.
European football’s governing body says boys and girls should not be punished for the actions of adults.
“Football should never give up sending messages of peace and hope,” the organisation said in a statement.
Uefa suspended all Russian teams from European competitions when the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
It also revoked hosting rights for the 2022 Champions League final and 2023 Super Cup, which were due to be held in Saint Petersburg and Kazan respectively, as well as cancelling the sponsorship contract with state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
Uefa says it has “reiterated its condemnation of Russia’s illegal war” and confirmed all other Russian teams remain suspended.
“Uefa’s continuing suspension against Russian adult teams reflects its commitment to take a stand against violence and aggression. Uefa is determined that this position will continue until the war is over and peace restored,” said the organisation’s president Aleksander Ceferin.
“But by banning children from our competitions, we not only fail to recognise and uphold a fundamental right for their holistic development but we directly discriminate against them.
“By providing opportunities to play and compete with their peers from all over Europe, we are investing in what we hope will be a brighter and more capable future generation and a better tomorrow.”
Uefa’s executive committee has asked the organisation’s administration to “propose a technical solution” to allow teams back into U17 competitions even if they have already started.
It added that the matches will not be played in Russia and the teams will not be allowed wear the national kit, display their flag or play their anthem.
The next Under-17 male European Championship finals are due to be played in Cyprus next year. The women’s equivalent will be held in Sweden next May.