Russian Football Union create working group before decision on UEFA future - sources

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has created a working group to assess the feasibility of resigning its UEFA membership and joining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), sources have told ESPN, after delaying a decision over whether to quit European football.

An RFU executive committee meeting had been arranged in Moscow on Friday to discuss the prospect of switching to the AFC, but rather than commit to a decision, sources have said that senior figures in the Russian football hierarchy have requested further investigation and analysis of the positives and negatives of leaving the European game for Asia.

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Sources have said that the working group has been tasked with delivering a full assessment within three months so that a decision can be taken at the end of March.

All Russian clubs and national teams were suspended from competitive football by FIFA and UEFA in February following the invasion of Ukraine and, with the conflict still ongoing, the suspension remains in place.

Despite the global ban on its teams competing on both the club and international stage, sources have said that the RFU believes that a move to Asia would enable Russian teams to return to action in a more welcoming environment if, or when, FIFA ends its ban on Russia participating in the sport at a competitive level.

"In the current geopolitical realities, the presence of the RFU in UEFA contradicts the national interests of Russia," Roman Teryushkov, a deputy of the State Duma, told Sports.Ru. "It is impossible to build sports friendship with countries unfriendly to us and with constant poking from the collective West."

Russia's national team have played just three friendlies since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine -- against the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan -- and sources have said that there is a concern with the RFU that any return to action within UEFA in the future could be problematic, particularly if Russia were to face Eastern European nations that have been vocal in their support for Ukraine and hostility towards Russia.

UEFA is monitoring the situation and awaiting clarity from the RFU.