Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya wants "pro-regime teams" from Belarus to be banned ©Getty Images

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has urged UEFA to ban the country's national teams from its competitions.

The majority of European and international governing bodies have excluded athletes and teams from Russia and its military ally Belarus because of the war in Ukraine. 

UEFA has suspended Russian national teams and clubs from its competitions, but those from Belarus can still compete - albeit with a requirement that they play home matches outside of the country.

"I am for excluding pro-regime teams," Tsikhanouskaya told Politico, indicating the stance should be in place until President Alexander Lukashenko - widely viewed as a dictator - is deposed.

"I understand sport has to be beyond politics," Tsikhanouskaya, who is in exile, added. 

"But now it’s all politics, when members of your team are being detained or tortured."

Tsikhanouskaya's comments reference the plight of athletes who spoke out against Lukashenko at the height of ant-Government protests in 2020.

Many were either imprisoned or fled the country.

Belarus was included in the qualifying draw for Euro 2024 ©Getty Images
Belarus was included in the qualifying draw for Euro 2024 ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has levied sanctions against the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCRB), which is accused of failing to protect athletes who had protested against Lukashenko.

Lukashenko was formerly the NOCRB leader and his son Viktor is the new President, although the IOC does not recognise his election. 

But the NOCRB has not been formally suspended by the IOC, with athletes still allowed to compete under the Belarusian flag at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

At Tokyo 2020, two Belarusian coaches were expelled from the Olympics after sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya claimed to have been taken to the airport against her will following public criticism of Belarus' coaches.

Poland stepped in to give Tsimanouskaya a humanitarian visa and safe passage to the country; she is now a full Polish citizen.

Belarus was included in the qualifying draw for the men's Euro 2024 by UEFA, but could not be drawn against Ukraine.

Belarus ended up in Group I, along with Switzerland, Israel, Kosovo, Romania and Andorra.

Germany is due to host the tournament and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wrote to UEFA before the draw urging European football's governing body to exclude Belarus.