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27th Feb 2022

FIFA could ban Russia following calls for tougher stance from IOC

Daniel Brown

Russia can play as ‘RFU’ team without the country’s flag or anthem

FIFA could now seek to suspend Russia from football activities after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged sporting organisation to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials at from international events.

On Sunday, world football’s governing body had ordered Russia to complete their upcoming games without their anthem and flag in upcoming games. It was also announced they were to be known as the Football Union of Russia in future matches, with ‘home’ games to be played in neutral territory. 

The move came after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his military forces to invade Ukraine on Thursday on multiple fronts, with tanks moving across the border and ‘hundreds’ of Ukrainian troops reportedly dead.

Despite FIFA’s measures, many felt the sanctions didn’t go far enough. A number of nations had announced that they would refuse to play against Russia following the invasion in the fallout from Russia’s military invasion, including England, Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden. After FIFA’s statement, it was quickly clear that little change had been made.

The Polish football association were quick to respond to the statement, reiterating that Poland would not be competing against Russia – regardless of the name they play under. 

Cezary Kulesza, Polish football association president, said: “Today’s Fifa decision is 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.”

According to reports, Sweden will also refuse to play against Russia, and are willing to miss out on a World Cup spot in order not to play against Russia.

Fifa stated that talks with other sporting organisations over whether Russia should be expelled from competitions will also take place. 

Earlier on Sunday, the English FA confirmed that England will not play any international matches against Russia at any level following the invasion of Ukraine.

The FA said they “wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership”.

This, along with the IOC’s calls for a tougher stance to be taken against Russian athletes, could now pave the way for an expulsion.

Fifa released a statement on Sunday (February 27), which read: “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 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.

“To address football-related matters and in coordination with UEFA, the Bureau of the FIFA Council – involving the FIFA President and the six Confederation Presidents – has unanimously decided to take immediate first measures, in line with recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and that will be applicable until further notice:

• No international competition shall be played on the territory of Russia, with “home” matches being played on neutral territory and without spectators

• The member association representing Russia shall participate in any competition under the name “Football Union of Russia (RFU)” and not “Russia”

• No flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where teams from the Football Union of Russia participate FIFA 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. Importantly, FIFA strongly believes that the sport movement should be united in its decisions on this topic and that sport should continue being a vector of peace and hope.

“With regard to the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, FIFA has taken good note of the positions expressed via social media by the Polish Football Association, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Football Association and has already engaged in dialogue with all of these football associations.

“FIFA will remain in close contact to seek to find appropriate and acceptable solutions together. FIFA’s thoughts remain with everybody affected by this shocking and worrying situation.”

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