Russia could be banned from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the world soccer organizing body announced today.
“FIFA would like to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine,” FIFA announced in a statement. “Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine.”
FIFA also added that they were exploring “a potential exclusion from competitions” for Russia such as the 2022 World Cup, stating that any such ban “shall be applied in the near future should the situation not be improving rapidly.”
FIFA outlined a series of three sanctions in the statement:
- No international competition shall be played on the territory of Russia, with “home” matches being played on neutral territory and without spectators
- The member association representing Russia shall participate in any competition under the name “Football Union of Russia (RFU)” and not “Russia”
- No flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where teams from the Football Union of Russia participate
Russia, however, is still available to play its World Cup qualifier semi-final playoff match against Poland on March 24. A venue has yet to be determined.
Poland’s federation has stated they will not be playing that match regardless of venue, with potential future opponents Sweden and Czech Republic putting out similar positions.
“Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening,” Polish star Robert Lewandowski wrote on Twitter. “It is the right decision!”
“FIFA will remain in close contact to seek to find appropriate and acceptable solutions together,” the statement said in response to the three countries.
As they currently stand, the FIFA sanctions are similar to IOC treatment of Russian athletes at recent Olympic Games in response to a country-wide doping-scandal: removal of the Russian flag and name, but still allowing the Russian teams and athletes to compete.
Russia had previously hosted the 2018 World Cup.