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Fifa to make Russia play as RFU but no decision over World Cup following Ukraine invasion

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ifa has banned Russia from hosting international football following the invasion of Ukraine, but delayed a decision on the country’s potential participation at this year’s World Cup.

Russia’s national teams will be made to play ‘home’ matches behind closed doors at neutral venues overseas and will have to do so under the name Football Union of Russia (RFU), with the country’s flag and anthem banned.

Fifa says it is in “ongoing dialogue” over potential additional sanctions including “exclusion from competitions”.

The measures preventing teams from playing under the name ‘Russia’ are similar to those which see the country’s athletes represent the Russian Olympic Committee in Olympic and Paralympic competition as a result of widespread doping violations.

Exactly where they will come into practice as far as the senior men’s side is concerned, however, remains to be seen after Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic announced they will refuse to play against the Russians in World Cup qualifying playoffs next month. Poland have already reacted to Fifa’s sanctions and confirmed that their stance remains unchanged.

“Today’s Fifa decision is totally unacceptable,” said Polish football association 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.”

The Fifa statement said: “FIFA will continue its ongoing dialogue with the IOC, UEFA and other sport organisations to determine any additional measures or sanctions, including a potential exclusion from competitions, that shall be applied in the near future should the situation not be improving rapidly. The Bureau of the FIFA Council remains on standby to take any of these decisions.

“With regard to the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, FIFA has taken good note of the positions expressed via social media by the Polish Football Association, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Football Association and has already engaged in dialogue with all of these football associations. FIFA will remain in close contact to seek to find appropriate and acceptable solutions together.”

Uefa are also yet to make a decision on Russia’s participation in this summer’s Women’s European Championships, to be played in England. Unlike with the men’s World Cup, Russia have already qualified for the tournament.

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