Uefa president Alexander Ceferin is the subject of calls to ban Belarus from European Championship qualifying this year in an extension of the row over Russian participation in international sport.

The Labour peer George Foulkes has written to Ceferin asking him to reconsider the organisation’s position on Belarus, given the support the country has shown to its Russian neighbour during the war in Ukraine.

The news follows the meeting last week of 35 sports ministers to discuss the IOC’s proposals for a ‘pathway’ to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now Foulkes, who also serves as a committee member on the Council of Europe, has said Uefa must extend the same sanctions to Belarus as currently apply to Russia itself.

Currently Russia are banned from competing in Uefa competitions. Sanctions applied by Uefa to Belarus, meanwhile, state the country must play home fixtures in a third country behind closed doors. They are still competing to qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany however, despite calls from German authorities for their removal.

Describing the banning of home games as not an “entirely adequate response”, Foulkes calls for an “all-encompassing ban” on the team.

“Belarus served as a base for Russia’s initial invasion of northern Ukraine last February,” he writes in a letter which was sent to Ceferin last weekend. “Since then, it has provided military stores and equipment to Russia, allowed mobilized Russian conscripts to train on its territory, and served as a launching point for missile attacks on Ukraine. It is hard to see how these actions do not merit an all-encompassing ban on participation.

“I believe that the international community must stand united on these matters and therefore hope that Uefa will reconsider their position.”

In September of 2022, Uefa rejected an appeal from the German interior minister Nancy Faeser to remove Belarus from European qualifying. But in a statement released the following month, the governing body said that they would remain open to the prospect of toughening their sanctions.

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“The Uefa Executive Committee decided in March to prevent matches from being played on the territory of Belarus until further notice”, the statement read.

“Since then, Uefa has constantly been monitoring the situation and further decisions may be taken as necessary.”

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