Russia faces World Cup exile after “unacceptable” FIFA plan

Russia faces World Cup exile after "unacceptable" FIFA plan

PARIS – Russia’s future at the World Cup faltered on Monday after FIFA’s plans to allow them to play in neutral territory were dismissed as “unacceptable” by rivals, throwing the qualifying process for the football showpiece event into chaos.

FIFA’s governing body warned that they were considering the ultimate sanction against Russia as a punishment for their bloody invasion of Ukraine.

After three days of silence, however, they stopped and ordered Russia to play home matches in neutral arenas where their national flag and national anthem would be banned.

Russian teams would be called Russia’s Football Union.

FIFA said that dialogue with other sports organizations to determine further measures “including potential exclusion from competitions” would continue.

But within minutes of the announcement, the Polish Football Federation insisted that they would not play against Russia in a planned World Cup final, regardless of location.

“Today’s FIFA decision is completely unacceptable,” tweeted Polish FA President 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. ‘

Poland will play in Moscow on March 24 with the winners hosting either the Czech Republic or Sweden five days later.

The draw for the World Cup finals, which will be held in Qatar in November and December, is on April 1.

Sweden and the Czech Republic followed.

“We have previously made it clear that we do not want to face Russia in these circumstances [following the invasion] and so the case remains until further notice, says FA’s chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson.

“Dissatisfied” with FIFA

He added that he was “dissatisfied” with FIFA’s decision.

The Czech Football Association added: “There will be no change in the position of the Czech national team.”

In response, FIFA said in a statement that they “have taken good note of the positions expressed via social media by the Polish Football Association, the Czech Football Association and the Swedish Football Association.”

“FIFA will remain in close contact to try to find suitable and acceptable solutions together,” it said.

On Sunday, the president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, led the calls for Russia to be kicked out of the World Cup.

“The sports world, and especially football, can not remain neutral. I would absolutely not oppose the expulsion of Russia,” Le Graet told Le Parisien newspaper.

France is the World Cup winner after winning the 2018 tournament that hosted Russia.

The English Football Association said their national team would not play any matches against Russia “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities committed by the Russian leadership.”

The Welsh FA said it would also boycott because it “stands in solidarity with Ukraine and feels an extreme amount of sadness and shock over the latest developments in the country.”

“Football stands together”

The European governing body UEFA took the Champions League final on Friday from the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg on May 28 and switched it to the Stade de France in Paris.

At Wembley on Sunday, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson wore flowers in Ukraine’s yellow and blue colors before kick-off in the League Cup final.

Both teams stood for a minute of applause, while a scoreboard message in yellow and blue blazed “Football Stands Together” and Liverpool and Chelsea fans were seen with the flags of Ukraine.

A banner in blue and yellow read “You will never go alone” with reference to Liverpool’s terrace song.

Chelsea also said they were “praying for peace” following owner Roman Abramovich’s decision to relinquish control of the Premier League club.

FILE - A video screen shows the Ukrainian flag, during the English League Cup's last football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in London, 27 February 2022. FILE – A video screen shows the Ukrainian flag, during the English League Cup’s last football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in London, 27 February 2022.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire announced on Saturday that he will hand over “the management and care” of Chelsea to the managers of the club’s charity foundation. But he remains the owner.

There was no mention in his statement about the crisis in Ukraine.

Chelsea released a 24-word statement on their website on Sunday but omitted all references to Russia or its President Vladimir Putin.

“The situation in Ukraine is terrible and devastating,” the statement said. “Chelsea FC’s thoughts go to everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”

FILE - Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauds fans after winning the Premier League.  (Reuters / Hannah McKay Livepic) FILE – Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauds fans after winning the Premier League. (Reuters / Hannah McKay Livepic)

It is understood that Abramovich, who is said to have links to the Kremlin, made the decision to step aside to protect Chelsea from damage to rumors when the war rages in Ukraine.

Sporting anger was not just limited to football.

In Cairo, Ukraine withdrew from the Fencing World Cup on Sunday to avoid facing Russia, slamming its swords and displaying protest signs saying “Stop Russia!” Stop the war! ‘ and ‘Save Ukraine! Save Europe. ‘

The swimming governing body FINA canceled the world championships for juniors in Russia which would take place in August and said that no other events will be held in the country “if this serious crisis continues.”

Swimming Australia on Monday welcomed the cancellation and said it would boycott all competitions in Russia.


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