FIFA has imposed sanctions on Russia “to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine”. The eastern European country will not be allowed to play at home and the team must compete under the name Football Union of Russia (RFU). There will be no flags or anthems allowed. FIFA did not rule out “a potential exclusion from competitions”, should the war continue. The decision was made together with UEFA.
However, the punishment inflicted by FIFA has been deemed small and not up to what everyone was expecting which was an outright ban. Several people took to social media to berate the slap on the hand punishment and have asked for a stricter punishment.
Russia was drawn against Poland in March as part of a four-team group for one of Europe’s final places in the World Cup in Qatar later this year. If Russia were to win its game against Poland, it would meet Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place in Qatar when the tournament opens in November. Russia’s first playoff match and the potential second game had been scheduled to be played in Moscow. Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic have now all refused to play Russia under any circumstances as a protest against Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
Cezary Kulesza, the president of Poland’s soccer federation, called FIFA’s decision “totally unacceptable.” In a post on Twitter, he added: “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.”
Karl-Erik Nilsson, the president of Sweden’s football federation, also said it would not play Russia. He urged FIFA to cancel the playoff matches.
Last week UEFA stripped St. Petersburg of this year’s Champions League final, and on Sunday England’s Football Association said it would not play Russia in any international games for the foreseeable future “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership.”