FIFA is under mounting pressure from both governments and the football community to remove Russia from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Ukraine Invasion.
According to reports on Saturday, the UK government intends to exert more pressure on FIFA through the Football Association, and The Independent has been told that this is a sentiment shared by several European governments and important people within football federations.
The goal is to turn Russia into such a worldwide pariah that the war becomes an unsustainable domestic strategy, and both government and football officials have privately voiced surprise that Fifa has yet to act.
A number of national football officials are debating whether to exacerbate the situation to the point where Russia gets disqualified from this year’s FIFA World Cup.
The ball was kicked off on Saturday morning when the Polish Football Association gave Fifa a major problem by announcing that they would not be playing Russia in their World Cup play-off semi-final. They’re also discussing a shared stance with the two federations on the other side of the draw, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Many in the game are now debating whether Russia should be fully banned from the 2022 World Cup.
“Enough with the words; it’s time to act!” Cezary Kulesza, the head of the Polish Football Association, posted on Twitter. “Due to the Russian Federation’s escalation of aggression against Ukraine, the Polish national team will not participate in the play-off match against Russia.” This is the only sensible option. We’re in discussions with the Swedish and Czech associations about submitting a single statement to Fifa.”
“You don’t play with bandits!” stated Polish President Andrzej Duda, while Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki went even farther, saying, “You cannot play a match against Russia under such circumstances… Thank you so much for making this choice.”
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski echoed the comments, expressing sorrow for Russian football fans and players.
“It is the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues. Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”
Sweden later openly backed Poland, implying that Fifa should consider expulsion of Russia. “The men’s national team will not play against Russia – regardless of where the match is played,” the federation said in a statement. The Federal Board also requests FIFA to cancel Russia’s participation in the March playoff matches.”