LONDON – FIFA received a quick backlash from European nations for not immediately excluding Russia from the World Cup qualifiers on Sunday and only ordered the country to play without its flag and anthem in neutral arenas under the name of its federation – Russia’s Football Union.
Poland protested against FIFA’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it would still refuse to play against the country in a World Cup semi-final scheduled for March 24.
“Today’s FIFA decision is completely unacceptable,” tweeted the President of the Polish Football Association, Cezary Kulesza. ‘We are not interested in participating in this performance game. Our position remains intact: the Polish national team will NOT play with Russia, no matter what the team is called. ‘
The unanimous decision of the FIFA Bureau, with the presidents of the six regional football federations, said that the Russian flag and anthem could not be associated with the team playing as the “Football Union of Russia (RFU).”
“FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA and other sports organizations to determine any further action or sanctions,” FIFA said in a statement, “including a potential exclusion from competitions, which will be applied in the near future should the situation arise. does not improve quickly. ‘
The decision is adopted by the court of arbitration before the invasion of Ukraine, which punishes Russia’s blackout of the investigation into state-subsidized doping. This meant that the Russians had to compete in the last two Olympics as the ROC team. FIFA had stopped the implementation of the ban for Russia to compete under the country’s name until a potential qualification for the World Cup.
The winner of the playoffs Russia-Poland will host Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to decide who goes on to November 21-December 21. World Cup 18 in Qatar.
The Swedish Federation’s chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson, UEFA’s senior vice president, told the website Fotbollskanalen that he was not happy with the FIFA decision with an expected “sharper attitude”. The Czechs said the FIFA compromise did not change their decision not to play against Russia.
FIFA said it had engaged with the three associations and that they would remain in “close contact to try to find suitable and acceptable solutions together.”
Separately, the English Football Association announced that its national team would refuse to play against Russia for the “foreseeable future”. Russia has qualified for the European Championships for women hosted by England in June.
The English FA said the decision was taken “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities committed by the Russian leadership.”
RFU’s president is Aleksandr Dyukov, who is the managing director of a subsidiary of the state energy giant Gazprom and also sits on UEFA’s executive committee.
In France, Noël Le Graët, president of the Football Association, told the daily Le Parisien on Sunday that he was inclined to exclude Russia from the World Cup.
“The world of sport, and football in particular, can not remain neutral,” said Le Graët, who sits on the FIFA Governing Body and has recently been a close ally of the governing body’s president, Gianni Infantino.
A strict reading of FIFA’s World Cup rules would even make the Polish, Swedish and Czech federations guilty of disciplinary action and having to pay fines and compensation if they did not play against Russia.
In 1992, however, FIFA and UEFA removed Yugoslavia from their competitions following UN sanctions imposed when war broke out in the Balkans.
The FIFA agency, led by Infantino, includes UEFA President Alexander Ceferin.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine escalated into a fourth day on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin temporarily lost his highest official position in world sports. The International Judo Federation cited “the ongoing war in Ukraine” for revoking Putin’s honorary presidential status.
The Russian president is an avid judoka and took part in the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.
There was an abrupt departure on Sunday from the Russian President of the European Judo Union, with Sergey Soloveychik referring to the “heartache that we see the people of brother countries die” but support their country.
“No one doubts that my heart belongs to judo,” he said. “But it is equally true that it belongs to my homeland, Russia. We, the judokas, must always be loyal to our principles.
In Putin’s second favorite sport, ice hockey, the Latvian club Dinamo Riga withdrew from the Russian-owned and run Continental Hockey League on Sunday, citing the “military and humanitarian crisis”.