FIFA urged to take swift, decisive action against Russia
The world governing body has been quiet on the issue since a issuing a statement on Thursday saying it would “continue to monitor the situation” and issue an update “in due course”.
FIFA has since come under pressure with Poland’s football association and players announcing on Saturday they would be boycotting next month’s World Cup qualifier against Russia.
Sweden, who could face Russia in the next round of the play-offs, then also said they would refuse to play the match, with the nation’s football federation calling on FIFA to cancel Russia’s matches.
“The federal board also urges FIFA to cancel the play-off matches in March in which Russia participates,” a statement said.
This came after European counterpart UEFA took a decision on Friday to move its flagship Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris while other sports, notably Formula One, have moved to cut ties with Russia.
During Saturday’s Premier League action, Aston Villa’s Poland defender Matty Cash was booked after he celebrated a goal by unveiling a message in support of international team-mate Tomasz Kedziora, who plays for Dynamo Kiev and remains in the Ukrainian capital.
Former England striker Gary Lineker, top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, believes FIFA needs to make a strong statement and bar Russia from competing in this year’s tournament in Qatar.
Lineker tweeted: “If @FIFAcom gives the World Cup qualifier to Poland and throws out Russia (unless, of course, they pull out of Ukraine), it would send a powerful and meaningful message.”
He added: “Come on @FIFAcom do what’s right.”
On the statement issued by Poland’s players in which they stated their refusal to play against Russia, Lineker tweeted: “Proud of how footballers are once again standing up for what is right.”
Lineker’s sentiments were echoed by a number of politicians.
Damian Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe who is a former chair of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, tweeted: “Russia should be banned from the World Cup. @FIFAcom banned Yugoslavia from the 1994 World Cup and should do the same to Russia now.”
Lucy Powell, the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, tweeted: “It shouldn’t be for individual countries to take a stand, sport governance like @FIFAcom should make the decision: that Russia should not be allowed to participate in international competitions while it’s engaging in an illegal, brutal invasion.”
Andy Burnham, a former sports minister who is now mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: “What did we do to deserve FIFA? The people’s game should always be the first to support the people. But FIFA follow the money. They are, and always have been, a disgrace.”
Mark Halsey, a former FIFA and Premier League referee, also feels Russia should be excluded.
Halsey tweeted: “Excellent news from Poland’s football federation refusing to play Russia in their @FIFAWorldCup play off game, Poland shouldn’t have to make that stance as @FIFAcom should have already banished Russia from the competition #Ukraine.”
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