Recently, the Bosnia and Herzegovina football association scheduled a friendly against Russia set for November. Yet, with Russia still in the midst of sanctions from UEFA and FIFA, there is strong backlash to the fixture.

In a brief announcement on Friday, the N/FSBiH declared that they accepted an invitation from Russia. The game is set for the day before the World Cup in Qatar. Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to qualify, while FIFA suspended Russia from World Cup qualifying.

Two of the star players in the Bosnia and Herzegovina squad strongly condemned the decision. “I am against the playing of this match! I am always and only for peace,” captain Edin Dzeko told Bosnian news source Klix.

‘The association knows my opinion! Unfortunately, I am not the one who makes the decisions with whom Bosnia and Herzegovina will play, but I have my position which is clear and which does not include playing this match, while innocent people are suffering. I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in these difficult times for them.”

Team vice captain Miralem Pjanic voiced his concerns as well. “The decision is not good. I am speechless,” said Pjanic. “In the national Football Association, they know what I think.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina schedules friendly with Russia

Outrage went beyond sport on the strange scheduling of the match. Benjamina Karić, mayor of Bosnia’s capital city Sarajevo, also joined the frustrations.

“Sarajevo as the city which has been under the longest siege from aggressors. [I], as a mayor, strongly condemn the decision by the national Football Association to play a friendly match with Russia,” the mayor posted on her official Twitter account.

Sarajevo was previously a main focal point of the Bosnian War that lasted from 1992 to 1995.

Russia has been barred from taking part in the 2022 World Cup due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. They have not played an official senior men’s international match in nearly 10 months. Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other hand, failed to qualify for the upcoming tournament.