https://www.dw.com/-Russia will have to play football matches on neutral grounds and without spectators, the country’s flag or anthem, say FIFA. World football’s governing body acted after Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic refused to play.
No international football matches will be played in Russia, football’s global ruling body FIFA said on Sunday. But the country will be allowed to continue with their World Cup qualification campaign as things stand.
Following international condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, FIFA also said Russia would have to compete in international football under the name “Football Union of Russia (RFU)”.
No flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where teams from the Football Union of Russia participate, FIFA added. A day earlier, Poland was the first country to act.
“We can’t pretend that nothing is happening,” the country’s star striker Robert Lewandowski posted on Twitter.
The Bayern Munich star was one of many Polish players to immediately back a decision from the Polish Football Association to boycott an upcoming World Cup playoff match against Russia. Other countries, including potential future playoff opponents Sweden and Czech Republic as well as England and France, have since followed Poland’s lead.
It is the latest protest from the football world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with clubs terminating sponsorships with Russian companies and European governing body UEFA stripping Saint Petersburg of hosting right for the Champions League final.
So far, however, there has been no move from UEFA to banish Russian clubs from its continental competitions. “FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), UEFA and other sport organizations to determine any additional measures or sanctions,” read FIFA’s Sunday statement.
The Polish FA had taken the matter into their own hands, with Poland FA president Cezary Kulesza writing on Twitter on Saturday, “No more words, time to act!,”
He doubled down on Sunday, after the FIFA ruling, tweeting: “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.”
The two nations were due to face off in Moscow next month, with the winner playing either Sweden or Czech Republic for a place at the Qatar World Cup. Sweden later backed Poland’s stance. “The men’s national team will not play against Russia, regardless of where the match is played,” the Swedish FA posted on Twitter. The Czech federation followed, adding that they would not play “even on a neutral venue.”
Kulesza’s inital stance was quickly supported by politicians and players, including Bayern Munich forward Lewandowski.
The Poland national team released its own unified statement on Twitter as well, saying they “do not intend to play in the playoff match against Russia.”
“It is not an easy decision, but there are more important things in life than football. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian nation and our friend from the national team, Tomasz Kedziora, who is still in Kiev with his family.”
Polish president Andrzej Duda and prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki also voiced their support for the move.
Edited by: Kristin Zeier