FIFA bans matches in Russia, says national team must play as Football Union of Russia

No international football matches will be played in Russia and the country’s flag and anthem will be banned from matches abroad, governing body FIFA has announced in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA said the national team would not compete as Russia but as the Football Union of Russia (RFU) and any games would be held with no fans and on “neutral territory”.

Scores of sports federations and clubs have canceled competitions in Russia or have refused to face Russian teams in protest against the invasion.

The Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden said their national teams would not contest World Cup qualifiers against Russia next month. England’s Football Association said its national team would not play any matches against Russia “for the foreseeable future”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged international sports federations to either move or cancel events planned in Russia or Belarus, through which Russian troops entered Ukraine when the invasion began. French President Emmanuel Macron has described Belarus as “complicit” in the invasion.

“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 shall be applied in the near future should the situation not be improving rapidly,” the statement read.

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council remains on standby to take any of these decisions.”

Emotional fans hug at a Premier League game Manchester City-Everton game.  One holds a Ukraine flag.
Many sporting matches have featured emotional tributes to Ukraine in the wake of the invasion.Getty: Peter Byrne/PA Images

FIFA said it would try to find a solution with the three countries — Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic — involved in the World Cup qualifiers.

“FIFA will remain in close contact to seek to find appropriate and acceptable solutions together,” it said.

Reuters

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