FIFA has been branded an ‘absolute disgrace’ for failing to throw Russia out of the World Cup and allowing the nation to continue playing international football.
Football’s world governing body announced sanctions against Russia on Sunday, but they stopped short of an outright ban on participating in international competition.
Russia is allowed to compete under the name, ‘Football Union of Russia’, with no flag or anthem and it must find a neutral country to host its matches.
Now the UK government is set to condemn FIFA for failing to take tough enough action, according to the Telegraph, and Labour MP Chris Bryant has labelled the body’s response a ‘shambles’.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has advised that athletes from Russia and Belarus should be banned from all international sporting events, according to the Associated Press.
And UEFA, football’s European governing body, is taking further action against Russia.
FIFA is under mounting pressure to ban Russia from the World Cup and other competitions
Spartak Moscow are expected to be ejected from the Europa Champions League by UEFA
The pressure on FIFA to go further in it’s response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is building by the hour.
It’s initial response appeared to be an attempt to act in a way that was broadly consistent with the inclusion of the Russian Olympic Committee at the 2022 Winter Olympics. This allowed Russian athletes to compete, despite Russia receiving a two-year ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2019 for its state-sponsored doping program
However, on Monday, the IOC has advised that competitors from Russia and Belarus should be banned from all international sporting events.
The move follows an IOC Executive Board meeting where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was discussed. The IOC has withdrawn the Olympic order from Vladimir Putin ‘considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past’, said AP.
UEFA is also set to take further steps against Russia. Having already stripped the country of the Champions League final, which was due to take place in St Petersburg on May 28, it is now prepared to throw Spartak Moscow out of the Europa League.
Spartak were due to play German Bundesliga team, RB Leipzig in the Round of 16 tie, but according to Bild, the tie is now expected to be cancelled.
‘We continue to be in close contact with the associations and have complete confidence in UEFA and their decision,’ RB Leipzig chief Oliver Mintzlaff told the German outlet.
‘We assume that the games will be cancelled.’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) awards an Order of Friendship to FIFA President Gianni Infantino during a ceremony in 2019
Europe’s football governing body had already banned Spartak from playing their home leg in Russia.
The moves by the IOC and UEFA will only ratchet up pressure on FIFA, which looks out of step with European football and the sporting world, following Vladimir Putin’s merciless invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday.
Four days of rockets, shells and fighting has seen more than 500,000 refugees, mainly women and children, flee Ukraine for the West, with some children separated or even orphaned since the invasion began. Queues of up to 25 miles are reported at the border with Poland.
The horrific reality of Putin’s war has been exposed in images emerging from Ukraine, which depict the killing of young children, their distraught parents and the desperate efforts of midics to save them.
Today, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a TV address that 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and 45 wounded in the four days since the invasion began.
An explosion lights up the night sky over Kiev in the early hours of Thursday, as Russia launched an all-out attack on Ukraine from north, south and east with bombs, cruise missiles and rockets raining from the skies
A huge explosion seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country came under all-out attack by Russia
The English Football Association has already confirmed they will not play any team from Russia, regardless of what they call themselves.
The FA is one of seven associations to announced an outright ban on games with Russia. The others include, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Scotland, Sweden and Wales.
The FA want Russia to be banned from this year’s tournament and has said they will not play them at any level or age group for the foreseeable future. An England Under 17s’ match with Russia in the European Championship elite round, due to take place on March 26, was cancelled on Sunday night.
Russia are due to meet Poland in the World Cup play-offs next month, with Sweden and the Czech Republic to play the winners for a place in Qatar, but all three countries said over the weekend they are unwilling to play.
Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza said yesterday that FIFA’s decision is ‘totally unacceptable’.
‘We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances,’ he said in a tweet.
‘Our stance remains intact — the Polish national team will not play with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.’
Swedish FA president Karl-Erik Nilsson told the Fotbollskanalen website: ‘It is clear that we are not satisfied with this.’
Albania, due to play Russia twice in the Nations League in June, also said they would boycott their fixtures.
Today, MP Chris Bryant said he was ‘spitting with fury at FIFA’.
‘Do FIFA not understand?’ he told the Telegraph ‘What are they missing? This was already a shambles before last week.
‘Honestly, it’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace. Russia should not play any international sport, end of story. We cannot go down in history as the generation that refused to do everything that was in our power.’
Firefighter inspects the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv
Labour MP Chris Bryant has condemned FIFA as a ‘shambles’ and an ‘absolute disgrace’
Amid the mounting tensions, Ukrainian President Zelensky’s office announced on Monday that the Ukraine and Russia would meet at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border, where a Russian delegation was waiting Sunday.
But the Kremlin’s ultimate aims in Ukraine – and what steps might be enough to satisfy Moscow – remained unclear.
The fast-moving developments came as scattered fighting was reported in Kyiv, battles broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and strategic ports in the country’s south came under assault from Russian forces.
With Russian troops closing in around Kyiv, a city of almost 3million, the mayor of the capital expressed doubt civilians could be evacuated.
Across the country, Ukrainian defenders were putting up stiff resistance that appeared to slow Russia’s advance.
Meanwhile, the top official in the European Union outlined plans by the 27-nation bloc to close its airspace to Russian airlines and fund the purchase of weapons for Ukraine.
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