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Ukraine invasion: Outrage in Europe as FIFA fails to ban Russia

Ukraine invasion: Outrage in Europe as FIFA fails to ban Russia
February 28
09:47 2022

Several European nations have expressed their disappointment with the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) for failing to exclude Russia from the upcoming World Cup Qatar 2022 playoffs.

The widespread criticisms follow after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday.

FIFA had on Sunday announced that Russia can continue their bid to qualify for the World Cup, despite their opponents refusing to play against them.

As part of an initial list of sanctions, the football’s world governing body also said Russia must play all upcoming international fixtures on neutral sites under the name “football union of Russia.”

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It added that there will be no Russian flags or anthems allowed while also not ruling out “a potential exclusion from competitions” if the conflict escalates.

“First and foremost, FIFA would like to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine,” FIFA said in a statement.

“FIFA calls again for the urgent restoration of peace and for constructive dialogue to commence immediately. FIFA remains in close contact with the Ukrainian Association of Football and members of the Ukrainian football community who have been requesting support to leave the country for as long as the current conflict persists.”

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Although the initial list of sanctions does not completely ban Russia, FIFA said in the statement that it “will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA and other sport organisations to determine any additional measures or sanctions, including a potential exclusion from competitions, that shall be applied in the near future should the situation not be improving rapidly.”

Russia is expected to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off match on March 24, with the winner going on to face the Czech Republic or Sweden.

But during the weekend, England, Poland, Sweden, Wales, and the Czech Republic said their national teams will not be playing Russia in any of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers next month.

Some of the countries also called on FIFA to expel Russia from the competition.

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“We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will not play with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is,” said Cezary Kulesza, the Polish FA president.

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On his part, Karl-Erik Nilsson, Swedish FA president, said his country expected a “sharper” response from FIFA.

“Our opinion is not different today and the situation has not changed in Ukraine just because we have received the message from Fifa, so we have no other opinion today,” he said.

“We also want to talk to Poland and the Czech Republic so that we can give back to Fifa what we think, but we had expected a sharper stance from Fifa. We would have done so.”

Also reacting, the English Football Association vowed that it will not play Russia at any level for the “foreseeable future”.

“The FA can confirm that we won’t play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future. This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para Football,” it said.

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