Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin,s re-elected unopposed for a third term as UEFA President, is "loyal" to Russia, it has been claimed ©Getty Images

UEFA honorary member Vyacheslav Koloskov has praised re-elected President Aleksander Čeferin for his "loyalty to the Russian Football Union (RFU)".

The former RFU President and FIFA vice-president made his comments after Čeferin was re-elected by acclamation for a third term at the UEFA Congress in Lisbon on Wednesday (April 5), despite the Slovenian official admitting that "my personal opinion is that until the war stops it will be very hard for us to change anything" with regards to Russian participation in European competitions.

Russia has been blocked from UEFA and FIFA for more than a year since the invasion of Ukraine, leading to its expulsion from qualification playoffs for last year's World Cup in Qatar and the Women's European Championship in England.

Its national teams were also removed from qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the men's UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany, and clubs are unable to participate in continental competitions, including the UEFA Champions League.

The RFU had considered transferring its affiliation to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), but that proposal appears to have been shelved in favour of talks with UEFA through a Working Group over a return to European competitions.

Despite Russia being unable to play in UEFA competitions, honorary member Vyacheslav Koloskov praised Aleksander Čeferin for his
Despite Russia being unable to play in UEFA competitions, honorary member Vyacheslav Koloskov praised Aleksander Čeferin for his "loyalty to the Russian Football Union" ©Getty Images

Russian officials, including Executive Committee member Alexander Dyukov, have been permitted to continue in their roles, and the RFU was allowed to attend the Congress in the Portuguese capital.

Koloskov expressed his backing of Čeferin, and praised him for his support of the RFU and opposition to the attempted European Super League breakaway club competition.

"The fact that there was one candidate from 55 associations speaks of complete trust in Čeferin, that is, there is not a single person who could challenge him," Koloskov told Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"It seems to me that this is the right decision in favour of Čeferin, I see his activities, including loyalty to the Russian Football Union, but this is not the most important thing.

"He was able to maintain the unity of UEFA, to resist the formation of the Super League, which some clubs dream of.

"I know that a lot of work is underway to help the National Football Associations.

"Russia is suspended, but nevertheless it receives invitations to various children's and youth tournaments.

"The support of 55 associations speaks of his authority, the correctness of the course."

Russian Presidential aide Igor Levitin, right, said there would be
Russian Presidential aide Igor Levitin, right, said there would be "no point" in the RFU shifting to Asia if the AFC implements IOC recommendations ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last month paved the way for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sport as neutrals provided they do not support the invasion of Ukraine or are affiliated to the military, but these recommendations do not cover team events.

Igor Levitin, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed transferring to the AFC would be unnecessary if it chooses to implement the IOC's recommendations.

"Čeferin doesn't want us to leave," Levitin told TASS.

"Based on his statement, is it possible to say that the RFU needs to move to Asia?

"We still do not understand what recommendations the Asian Football Confederation will accept.

"If the organisation decides that they will fully comply with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee, then there is no point in moving."

While travel restrictions remain in place from much of Europe to and from Russia, flights are easier between Russia and Asia.

Russia's men's national team has played five friendly matches against teams from Asia since the invasion of Ukraine, and has committed to playing in the inaugural Central Asian Football Association Championship with Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and one other Asian country in June this year.