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Russia face World Cup ban threat as sport turns yellow and blue for Ukraine

Paris (AFP) – Russia faced calls to be banished from the 2022 World Cup on Sunday as Moscow edged towards becoming a sports pariah following its invasion of Ukraine.

Demands to dump Russia from football’s showpiece event were led by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.

“The world of sport, and especially football, cannot remain neutral. I certainly would not oppose the expulsion of Russia,” said Le Graet told Le Parisien newspaper.

France are the reigning world champions having won the 2018 tournament played in Russia.

Governing body FIFA warned that they were considering the ultimate sanction but after four days of war, they on Sunday only ordered Russia to play home internationals on neutral venues.

Their national flag and anthem are also to be banned.

FIFA also said Russian teams would play as the “Football Union of Russia”.

FIFA admitted, however, it would continue its dialogue with other sports organisations to determine additional measures “including potential exclusion from competitions”.

However, within minutes of FIFA’s announcement, the Polish FA insisted once again that they will not play Russia in a World Cup play-off.

“Today’s FIFA decision is totally unacceptable,” tweeted Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza.

“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.”

Poland were due to play in Moscow on March 24.

Should Russia win, they are scheduled to host the winners of a match between the Czechs and the Swedes on March 29.

Sweden and the Czech Republic have also refused to play Russia in the play-offs.

The English FA said Sunday that their national teams would not play any games against Russia “out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership”.

European governing body UEFA took action on Friday, stripping Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena of the Champions League final on May 28 and awarding the showpiece match to the Stade de France in Paris.

At Wembley on Sunday, Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson carried flowers in Ukraine’s yellow and blue colours onto the pitch before kick-off in their League Cup final.

Both teams stood for a minute’s applause, while a message on the stadium scoreboard in yellow and blue read “Football Stands Together”.

– ‘Save Ukraine, save Europe’ –

Liverpool and Chelsea fans were seen with Ukraine flags in their sections of Wembley.

One supportive banner in Ukraine’s blue and yellow colours read “You’ll never walk alone” in reference to Liverpool’s anthem.

Chelsea also said they were “praying for peace” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after owner Roman Abramovich’s decision to hand over control of the Premier League club.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire announced on Saturday that he was handing the “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation. But he will remain as owner.

There was no mention in his statement of the crisis in Ukraine.

Chelsea released a 24-word statement on their website but there was no mention of Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin.

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

It is understood Abramovich, who allegedly has links to the Kremlin, took the decision to step aside in order to protect Chelsea from reputational damage as war rages in Ukraine.

Sporting anger wasn’t just limited to football.

In Cairo, Ukrainian fencers withdrew from the world championships to avoid facing Russia in a match-up.

The Ukraine men’s team, dressed in the yellow and blue of their national flag, downed their swords and picked up signs to protest.

“Stop Russia! Stop the war!,” the signs read, written in English. “Save Ukraine! Save Europe.”

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  1. Ernie

    February 28, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Incredible that the Russian sport teams haven’t been ban already from all sports. Infantino (little infant) should go to cuddle with Vad Puta because it is insulting to all of us that suggesting a name change will change what’s going on in Ukraine. Little Infant has shown that is more interesting in money than human life and rights to freedom. My suggestion is to boycott his World Cup this year.
    Players need rest too, they are not to be treated as 7×24 slot machines

  2. Roberto

    February 27, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    Someone in a recent comment said fifa needs to grow a pair. Well, they sure took a strong stand against russia. To compete, they have to pretend they are not the real russia but a fake one. That should really be hurtful for their leader Vad Puta.

    • Christopher Harris

      February 27, 2022 at 4:09 pm

      It’s not enough. In my opinion, it’s a weak move by FIFA because it doesn’t really change things that much. Remember that Infantino is friends with Putin.

      • Ra

        February 27, 2022 at 4:21 pm

        Completely agree. The least they could do is to ban the team altogether. Same clown show happened with the Olympics. Russia continued doping, but now as ROC.
        I liked to see LaLiga’s “Stop War” scorebug as well as the whole stadium in Frankfurt displaying the message “Stop it, Putin!”.
        We should never be ambiguous about who is at fault here. Very disappointing from Chelsea. It seems like a message written by Putin’s PR machine. They should confiscate Chelsea and give it to their local supporters or liquidate the assets to equip the Eastern flank.

    • Mark B

      February 27, 2022 at 7:09 pm

      I believe that was me who posted that. This chickens**t response from FIFA is not surprising as they ( along with the IOC ) have to be the most gutless sanctioning bodies in the world. Expel russia now! STAND WITH UKRAINE 🇺🇦

      PS: Vad Puta. In my limited knowledge of Spanish, I see what you did there and I like it!

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