Euro Fans Angry as FIFA Refuses to Expel Russia from Season Roster

European nations reacted angrily to FIFA’s decision not to immediately ban Russia from World Cup qualifying on Sunday, instead ordering the country to play at neutral sites under the name of its organization, the Football Union of Russia.

Poland said it will still refuse to face Russia in a World Cup playoff semifinal on March 24 as a protest against FIFA’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cezary Kulesza, the president of the Polish football association, tweeted, “Today’s FIFA decision is utterly unacceptable.” “We have no desire to take part in this game of appearances.” Our position remains unchanged: the Polish National Team will not play with Russia, regardless of the team’s name.”

The Russian flag and anthem can’t be affiliated with the squad playing as “Football Union of Russia (RFU),” according to the FIFA Bureau’s unanimous decision, which included the six regional football confederation presidents.

“FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA, and other sport organizations to determine any additional measures or sanctions, including a potential exclusion from competitions, that will be applied in the near future if the situation does not improve quickly,” FIFA said in a statement.

The verdict follows a ruling issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport before to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sanctioned Russia for concealing the investigation into state-sponsored doping. It meant that the Russians had to compete as the ROC squad — Russian Olympic Committee — in the previous two Olympics. FIFA has postponed enforcing the ban on Russia participating under its own name until a possible World Cup qualifying.

The winner of the Russia-Poland playoff will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to determine who will proceed to the World Cup in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

Karl-Erik Nilsson, the senior UEFA vice president, told the Swedish federation’s website Fotbollskanalen that he was dissatisfied with FIFA’s decision, and that a “sharper position” was expected. The Czechs stated that the FIFA agreement had no impact on their choice not to play Russia.

FIFA stated that it has spoken with the three organizations and that it will keep in “close communication” to “explore relevant and acceptable solutions together.”

Separately, the English Football Association declared that for the “foreseeable future,” its national teams will refuse to play Russia. Russia has qualified for the Women’s European Championship in June, which will be held in England.

The decision was made “out of sympathy with Ukraine and to totally condemn the atrocities being done by the Russian authorities,” according to the English Football Association.

Aleksandr Dyukov, the RFU’s president, is also the CEO of a subsidiary of state-owned energy giant Gazprom and a member of the UEFA executive council.

In France, Nol Le Grat, the head of the football federation, told the daily Le Parisien on Sunday that he was leaning toward Russia being excluded from the World Cup.

“The world of sport, and particularly football, cannot remain impartial,” said Le Grat, a member of FIFA’s Governing Council and a close supporter of the organization’s president, Gianni Infantino.

According to a rigorous interpretation of FIFA’s World Cup regulations, the Polish, Swedish, and Czech federations may face disciplinary action as well as penalties and compensation if they refused to play Russia.

Following United Nations sanctions imposed when conflict broke out in the Balkans, FIFA and UEFA expelled Yugoslavia from its tournaments in 1992.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is a member of the FIFA Bureau, which is led by Infantino.

UEFA said on Friday that the 2022 Champions League final will be moved from St. Petersburg to Paris, and that Russian and Ukrainian teams competing in its championships would have to play their home games in neutral nations. Spartak Moscow was permitted to continue playing in the Europa League’s round of 16 by UEFA.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin temporarily lost his most senior official position in international sports as Russia’s conflict on Ukraine began its fourth day. Putin’s honorary president title was suspended by the International Judo Federation, citing “the current military crisis in Ukraine.”

The Russian president is an accomplished judoka who competed in the 2012 London Olympics.

Sergey Soloveychik, the Russian president of the European Judo Union, abruptly resigned on Sunday, citing the “heartache that we witness the people in fraternal nations dying” but standing by his country.

“No one can deny that judo holds a special place in my heart,” he remarked. “However, it is also true that it is the property of my motherland, Russia.” Judoka must constantly be true to their values.”

The Latvian team Dinamo Riga resigned from the Russian-owned and governed Kontinental Hockey League on Sunday, citing the “military and humanitarian crises.”

FINA confirmed on Sunday that the world junior swim championships, which were set to take place in Kazan from August 23 to 28, will be canceled. FINA said that it was seeking for a new host for the event.

“FINA remains extremely concerned about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and following ongoing consultation with athletes and stakeholders from the aquatics family, FINA can now confirm that the 8th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships will not be held in Russia, and FINA will not be holding any future events in Russia if this grave crisis continues,” according to a FINA statement.

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