Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Fifa facing pressure to ban Russia from 2022 World Cup

World football’s governing body will be urged to act by the UK government, through the Football Association, among others

Miguel Delaney
Saturday 26 February 2022 15:46 GMT
FIFA is facing calls to ban Russia from the 2022 World Cup
FIFA is facing calls to ban Russia from the 2022 World Cup (PA Archive)

Fifa is facing increasing pressure, both from governments and within football, to exclude Russia from the World Cup 2022.

Reports on Saturday stated that the UK government was going to make further moves on the world governing body, through the Football Association, and The Independent has been told it is a feeling increasingly shared by other European governments and key figures within football federations.

The idea is to make Russia such an international pariah, to the point the war is an unsustainable domestic policy, and both government and football officials have privately expressed amazement that Fifa have not yet acted.

A number of national football officials are considering whether to escalate this into moves to have Russia disqualified from this year’s global football showpiece.

The ball was set rolling on Saturday morning, when the Polish Football Association created a huge headache for Fifa by announcing they have no intention of playing their World Cup play-off semi-final against Russia. They are also holding talks with the two federations on the other side of that draw, Sweden and the Czech Republic, on a shared stance.

Leading Polish players including Robert Lewandowski have refused to play against Russia in the upcoming World Cup play-off semi-final (PA Wire)

Many within the game are now considering whether this should be escalated into banishing Russia from the 2022 World Cup completely.

“No more words, time to act!” Poland's FA president Cezary Kulesza wrote on Twitter. “Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia. This is the only right decision. We are in talks with Swedish and Czech association to bring forward a joint statement to Fifa.”

The stance was immediately backed by Polish president Andrzej Duda, who said "You don't play with bandits!" and prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was even stronger: “You cannot play a match against Russia under such circumstances … Thank you so much for this decision.”

Poland's Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski endorsed the sentiments, while expressing sympathy for Russian fans and football people.

“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 publicly rowed in behind Poland, while intimating that Fifa should consider banishing Russia. A statement by the federation read: “The men’s national team will not play against Russia - regardless of where the match is played. The Federal Board also urges FIFA to cancel the play-off matches in March in which Russia participates.”

The Independent has approached both Fifa and the FA for comment.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in