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FIFA plan for Russian team to play international soccer matches has been branded ‘disgraceful’


(CNN) The president of the Polish Football Association has described FIFA’s plan to allow a Russian team to continue playing international soccer matches as “disgraceful.”

Football’s world governing body announced on Sunday that Russia must play all upcoming international fixtures on neutral sites without fans under the name “Football Union of Russia,” following the invasion of Ukraine.

“No flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where teams from the Football Union of Russia participate,” added FIFA, which said its measures were “in line with recommendations from the International Olympic Committee.”

Poland and Russia are scheduled to play in a World Cup playoff semifinal on March 24 on March 24 at the VTB Arena in Moscow.

Polish FA President Cezary Kulesza called the decision not to implement a total ban “unacceptable” and said that the Polish national team would not play Russia “no matter what the name of the team is.”

“Due to the disgraceful decision of FIFA, the Polish FA sent a letter today to all [football] federations in Europe,” Kulesza wrote on Twitter.

“We presented our position and encouraged them to stand by our side. Because only united we will be strong.

“No indulgence for Russian aggression against Ukraine!”

The winner of the scheduled playoff semi between Russia and Poland would host either Sweden or Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the Qatar World Cup this year.

However, Czech Republic and Sweden as well as England and Wales have also said they will not play Russia for the foreseeable future.

In a statement on Monday, the Swedish FA said it was “disappointed” by FIFA’s stance and said it would “continue to work together with other federations to cancel Russia’s matches.”
Even before FIFA’s statement on Sunday, the Polish FA had said it wouldn’t play Russia in the World Cup playoff semifinal.

“I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski tweeted. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”

‘Violence is never a solution’

Although the initial list of sanctions does not completely ban Russia, FIFA said it would continue monitoring the situation to “determine any additional measures or sanctions, including a potential exclusion from competitions.”

FIFA said it was also in contact with the Polish FA, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish FA, to find appropriate and acceptable solutions in regard to the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

“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 said in a statement.

“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.”


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