Pressure Mounts On FIFA Regarding Russia's Place In The World Cup

Zinger Key Points
  • The football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have announced their refusal to play against the Russian team.
  • The French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët says he "would not oppose" booting the Russians from the World Cup.

Backlash to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has permeated the World Cup, as pressure is being placed on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to hold Russia accountable for the invasion of Ukraine.

What Happened: According to ESPN, Russia is scheduled to host Poland on March 24 in a qualifying World Cup match, with the winner going on to host either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29.

However, the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic announced their refusal to play against the Russian team and sent a joint letter to the FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura demanding that the qualifying matches be held outside of Russia.

"Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation the Football Associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and Czech Republic (FACR) express their firm position that the playoff matches to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for March 24 and 29, 2022, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the letter said.

See Also: Analysis: 5 Major Economies Whose Leaders Refuse To Condemn Putin's Invasion Of Ukraine

What Else Happened: While the three nations did not specifically call for Russia to be barred from this year’s World Cup, French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët let it be known that he "would not oppose" booting the Russians from the World Cup.

"This is something that I have not yet discussed with other federations," he said in an interview with Le Parisien. "I lean for an exclusion of Russia from the next World Cup. This is my first impulse. Usually, I believe that sport is there to reconcile people and ease tensions, but this is going much too far. And the world of sport, and in particular football, cannot remain neutral. I will certainly not oppose an exclusion of Russia."

What Happens Next: FIFA’s leadership initially chose not to condemn the Russia invasion, although it issued a statement saying it held out "hope for rapid cessation of hostilities and peace in Ukraine" while adding a request for "all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue."

However, on Sunday evening FIFA announced that World Cup qualifying matches will not be played on Russian territory, with home games taking place at neutral sites and without spectators. Furthermore, Russia's team will participate under the name "Football Union of Russia" and the Russian flag and the nation's anthem will be absent from competitions.

"First and foremost, FIFA would like to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine," FIFA said in a statement. "Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine."

Photo: Jernej Furman / Flickr Creative Commons

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Posted In: NewsSportsGeneralFatma SamouraFIFANoël Le GraëtRussiasoccerUkraineWorld Cup
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