FIFA announced on Sunday that Russia must play all upcoming international fixtures on neutral sites under the name “football union of Russia,” as part of an initial list of sanctions due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” the world football governing body said in a statement.
“FIFA calls again for the urgent restoration of peace and for constructive dialogue to commence immediately,” the statement continues. “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.”
In coordination with UEFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Bureau of the FIFA Council ruled that all of Russia’s home fixtures in international competitions must be played on neutral territory and without spectators.
The member association representing Russia must also play all international competitions under the name “Football Union of Russia (RFU)” with no Russian flag or anthem allowed.
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.”
The Bureau of the FIFA Council “remains on standby to take any of these decisions,” the statement said.
FIFA also acknowledged they are in contact with the Polish Football Association, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Football Association to find appropriate and acceptable solutions regarding the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
Russia is currently scheduled to host Poland in a playoff semifinal on March 24. The game is set to be held at the VTB Arena in Moscow. The winner of the Poland-Russia match would host either Sweden or Czech Republic on March 29 in the final of their World Cup qualification route.
In a response to FIFA’s sanctions against Russia, Cezary Kulesza, president of the Polish Football Association, released a statement calling FIFA’s decision “totally unacceptable.”
“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.”
Along with Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and England have all said they will not play Russia in any of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers next month.
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