London (AFP) – FIFA backed away from immediately expelling Russia from Sunday’s World Cup qualifiers but said it was still an option, deciding instead that the team could play on neutral grounds using the “RFU” acronym for the country’s football association.
Poland rejected the deal immediately and said it would still refuse to face Russia in the World Cup semi-final scheduled for March 24.
“FIFA’s decision today is totally unacceptable,” Polish Football Association president Cesare Kuleza wrote on Twitter. “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearance. Our position remains intact: the Polish national team will not play with Russia, regardless of the name of the team.”
The unanimous ruling by the FIFA office, which includes the six regional football federation heads, was also that the Russian flag and national anthem could not be associated with the team that would use the Russian Football Union’s acronym.
“FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA and other sports organizations to determine any additional measures or sanctions,” FIFA said in a statement, including a possible exclusion from competitions, which would be applied in the near future should this occur. It doesn’t get better quickly.”
The decision adopts a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport prior to the invasion of Ukraine, which penalizes the Russian cover-up of a state-sponsored doping investigation. This meant that the Russians would have to compete in the last Olympics as the Republic of China team. FIFA had suspended enforcement of the ban on Russia competing under the country’s name until possible World Cup qualifiers.
The winner of the play-off between Russia and Poland will host Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to decide who advances to November 21-December. 18 World Cup in Qatar.
The Czech Republic joined Poland and Sweden on Sunday in declaring that they would refuse to confront Russia.
“The executive committee of the Czech federation, members of the staff and players of the national team have agreed that it is not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on a neutral pitch,” the federation said in a statement. “We all want the war to end as soon as possible.”
FIFA said it had dealt with the three confederations and would remain “in close contact to search for appropriate and acceptable solutions together”.
Separately, the English Football Association announced that its national teams will refuse to face Russia for the “foreseeable future”. Russia has qualified for the European Women’s Championship to be hosted by England in June.
The FA said the decision was taken “in solidarity with Ukraine and a heartfelt condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Russian leadership”.
The president of the federation is Alexander Dyukov, who is the CEO of a subsidiary of the state-owned energy giant Gazprom and a member of the UEFA Executive Committee.
In France, FIFA president Noel Le Grat told Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday that he was leaning toward excluding Russia from the World Cup.
“The world of sport, and in particular football, cannot remain neutral,” said Le Grat, a member of the FIFA Governing Council who was recently a close ally of the federation’s president, Gianni Infantino.
strict reading of FIFA World Cup regulations It could make the Polish, Swedish and Czech federations subject to disciplinary action, fines and compensation if they do not play for Russia.
In 1992, FIFA and UEFA removed Yugoslavia from their competitions following UN sanctions imposed when war broke out in the Balkans.
The FIFA office, headed by Infantino, houses UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
The European Football Association, on Friday, withdrew the 2022 Champions League final from Saint Petersburg, and moved it to Paris, and said that the Russian and Ukrainian teams in their competitions should play matches at home in neutral countries. UEFA has allowed Spartak Moscow to continue playing in the round of 16 of the second tier of the European League.
As the Ukraine offensive entered a fourth day on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin temporarily lost his most official position in global sport. The International Judo Federation cited the “conflict in Ukraine” for suspending Putin’s post of honorary president.
The Russian president is a passionate judoka who attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.
In Putin’s other favorite sport, ice hockey, Latvian club Dinamo Riga Sunday withdrew from the Russian-owned and operated Continental Hockey League due to a “military and humanitarian crisis”.
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