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Poland blast FIFA's plan for Russia to play in neutral countries with no fans, flag or anthem

The nation will have to play under the name ‘Football Union of Russia’.

Image: DPA/PA Images

Updated Feb 27th 2022, 8:41 PM

RUSSIA MUST PLAY international matches in neutral countries without supporters, world governing body FIFA has announced.

The country will also have to play under the name ‘Football Union of Russia’ and not as ‘Russia’ under new measures issued in response to the Ukraine crisis.

FIFA has also ruled that no Russian flag or national anthem can be used at matches.

Russia is due to participate in the World Cup qualifying play-offs next month but first opponents Poland and the sides they could face in the next round, Sweden and the Czech Republic, have already refused to play against them.

FIFA had faced calls to ban Russia from the competition altogether but, while it has stopped short of that on this occasion, it said in a statement “potential exclusion” remained an option.

But Poland blasted FIFA’s plans for Russia to play home internationals on neutral ground as “totally unacceptable” on Sunday and repeated they will not take on the Russians in a World Cup play-off.

“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,” tweeted Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza.

The news comes on a day when the English FA also announced that it would not play against Russia in any international fixture “for the foreseeable future” following the invasion of Ukraine.

A statement on Sunday evening followed announcements by the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – all future or potential opponents of Russia in World Cup qualifying – that they will refuse to play Russia at any venue.

The FA’s statement read: “Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership, the FA can confirm that we won’t play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future.”

Elsewhere, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said the club’s statement “praying for peace” in Ukraine “absolutely” reflects the view of the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

The London club, on the morning of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool, issued a 24-word statement on their website but did not mention Russia or Vladimir Putin.

It read: “The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating. Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”

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Speaking to Sky Sports prior to the Wembley showpiece, Tuchel was asked if the statement reflected Abramovich’s view and said: “Absolutely it includes him and this reflects my opinion like everyone else’s opinion in the club.”

On Saturday, Abramovich announced he was handing the “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the club’s foundation trustees, but would remain as owner. His statement did not mention the crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire has taken the decision to protect Chelsea from continued links to the wider situation of Russia’s war with Ukraine, the PA news agency understands.

Chelsea’s senior leadership set-up will not change, it is understood, with chairman Bruce Buck now the club’s most senior figure.

Asked if he had spoken to Abramovich, Tuchel said: “No, we haven’t, and this is not unusual. I have daily conversations with (technical and performance advisor) Petr Cech and very regularly with Marina (Granovskaia, director) – they’re in charge of football and it’s my understanding they will stay in charge, so it will not change a lot for me.”

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