FIFA withdrew from immediately kicking Russia out of World Cup qualifiers on Sunday but said it remained an option, ruling the team could play using the “RFU” acronym of its football federation, the Russian Football Union.
The unanimous decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council, which includes the six presidents of the regional football confederations, was also that the Russian flag and anthem cannot be associated with the team.
“FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA and other sporting organizations to determine any additional measures or sanctions,” FIFA said in a statement, “including a possible exclusion from competitions, which will apply in the near future if the situation is not improving quickly.”
The ruling adopts the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, punishing Russia’s cover-up of the state-sponsored doping investigation. Under that decision, the Russians had to compete in the last two Olympics as the Russian Olympic Committee team. FIFA had stalled the implementation of the ban on Russia competing under its name until possible qualification for the World Cup.
FIFA also said that the RFU team can only play on neutral territory and without spectators.
The president of the Polish football federation, Cezary Kulesza, reacted with outrage to FIFA’s decision, reiterating the federation’s decision to refuse to play Russia in the semi-final of the World Cup qualifying playoff, scheduled for March 24.
“FIFA’s decision today is unacceptable to us,” said Kulesza. “In the situation of the war in Ukraine, we are not interested in the game of appearances.
“Our position remains the same: the Polish national team will NOT PLAY against Russia in the tiebreaker, regardless of the name of the Russian national team.”
The playoff winner must host Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to decide who advances to the stage from November 21 to December 21. 18 World Cup finals in Qatar. However, both nations had said before the FIFA decision that they would refuse to play Russia.
The Polish federation wrote to FIFA late on Sunday to formally reject the body’s decision.
“The Polish Football Federation reports that as a result of the Russian Federation’s brutal aggression against Ukraine and the ongoing war there, we do not see any possibility of competing with the Russian national team in play-off matches for promotion to the World Cup. Cup. of Qatar in 2022, regardless of the name of the team consisting of Russian players and the location of the match,” he said.
Separately, the English Football Association announced that its national teams would refuse to play Russia for the “foreseeable future”. Russia has qualified for the European Women’s Championship, which will be hosted by England in June.
The English Federation said the decision was taken “in solidarity with Ukraine and to sincerely condemn the atrocities committed by the Russian leadership”.
The president of the RFU is Aleksandr Dyukov, who is chief executive of a subsidiary of state-owned energy giant Gazprom and also sits on UEFA’s executive committee.
On Sunday, French football federation president Noel Le Graet told Le Parisien newspaper that he was inclined to exclude Russia from the World Cup.
The world of sport, and football in particular, cannot remain neutral,” said Le Graet, who sits on the FIFA Council and was recently a close ally of FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
A strict reading of the FIFA World Cup regulations would make the Polish, Swedish and Czech federations liable to disciplinary action and obliged to pay fines and damages if they fail to play Russia.
In 1992, however, FIFA and UEFA removed Yugoslavia from their competitions following United Nations sanctions imposed when war broke out in the Balkans.
The FIFA Bureau, chaired by Infantino, includes UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
Uefa on Friday withdrew the 2022 Champions League final from St Petersburg, moving it to Paris, and said Russian and Ukrainian teams in their competitions must play at home in neutral countries. UEFA allowed Spartak Moscow to continue playing in the round of 16 of the second division of the Europa League.