NEW YORK, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA decided Tuesday to allow Belarus to advance to next month’s 2024 European Championship qualifying draw despite requests from the government of tournament host Germany to remove the team because Belarus is a military ally of Russia.
UEFA confirmed that Belarus will be in the group of 53 countries that ban Russia, although Belarus cannot be placed in the same group as neighboring Ukraine for security reasons.
The qualifying groups will be played in Frankfurt on October 9 and German Interior Minister Nancy Fesser last week asked UEFA not to allow Belarus to play. UEFA said they responded in a confidential letter to Fiser.
UEFA acted in May to ban Belarus from hosting the games and ensure that its “home” games on neutral soil would not be attended by fans.
The Belarus sanctions were imposed four months ago, with UEFA citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “facilitated by access from neighboring Belarus.”
Russian teams were banned from international competitions by UEFA and FIFA in February. Russia’s appeal against these decisions was rejected at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Other political decisions limiting the Euro 2024 draw include the extension of long-standing UEFA blocks on matches between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Spain and Gibraltar, as well as Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina both facing Kosovo.
UEFA also intervenes in the draw to limit the excessive travel and potentially severe weather that each team may encounter.