SECOND UPDATE: 3 PM PACIFIC: World Cup producers FIFA will allow the Russian national soccer team to participate in World Cup qualifying games, the organization said today.
FIFA will allow Russia to take the pitch, but will not allow the Russian flag or national anthem..The team will also be designated as the Football Union of Russia. The organization added that it will not allow any games in Russia itself, but will schedule for neutral territories.
Qualifying rounds are set to start next month. Whether these sanctions change any minds remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Pressure is mounting on FIFA to boot Russia from the qualifying rounds of the World Cup. Today, the Czech Republic has joined in the boycott of Ukraine’s invaders, saying they won’t face Russia on the pitch.
They join Poland and Sweden as nations vowing not to play Russia in the matches, which start next month.
Under the current schedule, the Czech Republic is set to play Sweden on March 24. The winner would then meet the victor of the Poland-Russia clash.
Czech Republic have now posted a statement on their Twitter account, stating that it’s “not possible to play against the Russian national team.”
:The Czech FA executive committee, staff members and players of the national team agreed it’s not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on the neutral venue. We all want the war to end as soon as possible.”
EARLIER: The fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, as Poland and Sweden have said they will refuse to play Russia in World Cup qualifying playoff matches.
The FIFA World Cup is the Super Bowl of soccer. Played every four years, it brings the top 32 national teams together in a month-long tournament. The next edition is scheduled for the end of this year in Qatar, moved off its traditional summer months because of the host country’s hot weather in that season. Qualifying matches to become one of the 32 teams are taking place starting next month.
Poland has a scheduled match next month, while Sweden potentially could have faced Russia in its bracket, depending on how earlier games played out.
“No more words, time to act! Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine, the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia,” Polish football association president Cezary Kulesza tweeted early Saturday morning. “We are in talks with (Swedish) and (Czech) federations to bring forward a joint statement to FIFA.”
Polish president Andrzej Duda replied to the tweet, saying: “And rightly so, Mr. President. You don’t play with bandits!”’
Poland was scheduled to play Russia in Moscow on March 24. The winner of that game was set to play the winner of a Sweden-Czech Republic match on March 29 for a spot in the World Cup.
“It is the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” sstriker Robert Lewandowski tweeted. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”
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