FIFA limits Russia to neutral venues, with no flag, anthem or spectators

Madrid, Feb 27 (EFE).- International soccer’s governing body, FIFA, on Sunday implemented a series of severe measures against Russia, ruling that no international competitions will be allowed on Russian soil and banning the Russian flag, national anthem and all spectators from other contests elsewhere over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia may only play its matches under the designation “Football Union of Russia.”

“First and foremost, FIFA would like to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine,” the Bureau of the FIFA Council said in a statement.

“FIFA calls again for the urgent restoration of peace and for constructive dialogue to commence immediately,” the international body said, adding that “FIFA remains in close contact with the Ukrainian Association of Football and members of the Ukrainian football community who have been requesting support to leave the country for as long as the current conflict persists.”

The Council said that the measures are the “first” in a series of unanimous moves to restrict Russia’s participation in international soccer events in agreement with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee and will remain in force “until further notice,” presumably as long as the conflict in Ukraine continues.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council said it was implementing the sanctions in coordination with UEFA and the IOC, adding that FIFA believes firmly that the sports movement must be united in its decisions on this matter and that sports must continue to be a “vector of peace and hope.”

FIFA also said that it will continue discussing matters with assorted sports organizations and will be on “standby” with an eye toward agreeing on any additional measures or sanctions that may become necessary, including potentially banning Russia from competitions altogether “should the situation not be improving rapidly.”

Regarding the upcoming qualification matches for the 2022 World Cup, FIFA said that it is in ongoing contact with the Polish Football Association, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Football Association to find acceptable solutions for the matches scheduled in that group.

Although Russia is due to host Poland in a March 24 playoff semifinal in Moscow, with the winner to play the victor of the Sweden-Czech Republic match in the final qualification contest on March 29, all three of those nations – along with England – have said that they refuse to play Russia.

EFE sab/jl/bp

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