Sunday 22 January 2017

Here is why Euro 2016 would be thrown into chaos if Russia were disqualified

Published 14/06/2016 | 16:05

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Players of Russia celebrate scoring a goal during Euro 2016 group B football match between England and Russia at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France on June 11, 2016. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Players of Russia celebrate scoring a goal during Euro 2016 group B football match between England and Russia at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France on June 11, 2016. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

UEFA took action against the Russian FA earlier today following a weekend of intense crowd trouble in Marseille, handing their national team a suspended Euro 2016 disqualification.

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The charge relates only to the violence that happened inside the Stade Velodrome during England's 1-1 draw with Russia, and doesn't cover the scenes of carnage that took place in the city before, during and after the game as only events inside the ground are 'under the jurisdiction of the UEFA Disciplinary Bodies.'

What a 'suspended disqualification' amounts to is a stern warning - the UEFA judgement says that the 'suspension' will be 'lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament.'.

Read more: Russia handed 'suspended disqualification' from Euro 2016 over Marseilles violence

If further violence takes place during Russia's game against Slovakia tomorrow, and the team is thrown out, it isn't immediately clear what that would mean for the tournament going forward.

UEFA Euro 2016 rules state that if a team is disqualified during the tournament, 'the results of all of its matches are declared null and void, and the points awarded forfeited.'

Therefore, England would lose the point they gained last Saturday night, with Wales and Slovakia also missing out on any potential points.

However, the nature of the new 24-team format means that Russia's expulsion wouldn't just impact them. Given that four third placed teams will qualify for the last 16, Russia's opponents would be disadvantaged in that battle were they to be disqualified, as the three teams would have one less game from which to accrue points from.

If UEFA were forced to to expel Russia, it would make things very messy for the tournament, and it is hard to see an easy way to maintain fairness if all of Russia's games are declared null and void. For example, were Wales, England and Slovakia to be rewarded three points each, then it would be unjust to the teams in other groups fighting for third place.

A Russian disqualification could lead to a playoff among third place teams or something equally drastic in order to maintain fairness.

Hopefully for the sake of Euro 2016, Russia's remaining games pass off without incident, lest an already convoluted qualification mechanism have to be revamped once again to ensure nobody is disadvantaged.

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