The Russian national soccer team will be allowed to take the pitch ahead of some World Cup qualifying games — because FIFA’s letting them proceed … despite some sanctions.
The international governing body for the game announced Sunday they would let Russia’s players play against some neighboring countries in soon-to-come matches — like against Poland, for example — stopping short of an all-out ban … which many were calling for.
Instead of kicking them out of the competition entirely, FIFA says they are, instead, not going to allow the Russian flag to be displayed, and won’t play the Russian anthem either. They’re also going to force the team to go by a new moniker — the Football Union of Russia … and no fans are allowed either.
Perhaps the biggest restriction FIFA is laying down in response to Putin’s invasion … not allowing any matches to be played in Russia itself, insisting on neutral territories.
Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden were set to dive into a 4-team playoff round — with games scheduled to be played in Russia itself — and have since said they wouldn’t square off against Russia at all … no matter where the games were situated.
Seeing how Poland was supposed to play Russia first in this tournament — they responded to FIFA’s announcement shortly thereafter, reportedly calling it “totally unacceptable” and again reaffirming their commitment to not playing against Russia no matter what.
The World Cup is taking place later this year in Qatar … and Russia is usually in the mix. It’ll be interesting to see how FIFA responds to teams refusing to play ball here.