On Sunday, FIFA announced that the Russian national soccer team could no longer compete under the name of “Russia.” Instead, it could only use the name “Football Union of Russia” or the acronym “RFU.”
In addition, Russia may not display the country’s flag or play the Russian national anthem during matches. FIFA also declared that Russia is no longer permitted to play home games. Instead, the Russian soccer team may only play on neutral sites and without any fans in attendance.
“Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine,” the international soccer organization said in a statement titled “Bureau of the FIFA Council takes initial measures with regard to war in Ukraine” released on Sunday. “FIFA calls again for the urgent restoration of peace and for constructive dialogue to commence immediately.”
“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,” FIFA stated.
However, soccer fans and experts were expecting more severe penalties, such as FIFA expelling Russia from World Cup qualifying.
Soccer journalist Grant Wahl: “Terrible from FIFA.”
Soccer writer Henry Winter: “FIFA has blood on its hands. Infantino should stand up to Putin not appease him. Utterly spineless from FIFA to let Russia continue competing in World Cup qualifying just with a different name. While brave Ukrainians die.”
Many soccer enthusiasts pointed out the issue with allowing to continue to compete.
The national soccer teams from Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic declared they will boycott games against Russia in retaliation to the Ukraine invasion. However, there will be a major issue if teams forfeit their matches against Russia, including World Cup qualifiers.
President of the Polish Football Association (PZPN) Cezary Kulesza: “Today’s FIFA decision is totally unacceptable. We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.”
Former pro soccer player Gary Lineker: “With Poland, Sweden & Czech Republic refusing to play Russia, @FIFAcom has to support them. It’s hard to envisage a World Cup taking place if Russia are given a free pass to the finals. How many teams will refuse to play them or pull out? FIFA where are you?”
Soccer commentator Iain Dale: “If FIFA kick Poland out of the World Cup for refusing to play Russia, and allow Russia through on a bye, all other nations should make clear they won’t play in Qatar.”
Sportswriter Karolos Grohmann: “FIFA really doesn’t get it that there are national teams out there that will not play against Russia anywhere under any name and what ever FIFA says.”
ESPN noted that the teams forfeiting matches against Russia could be punished, “A strict reading of FIFA’s World Cup regulations would even make the Polish, Swedish, and Czech federations liable to disciplinary action and having to pay fines and compensation if they wouldn’t play Russia.”