Another nation joins Russian sporting boycott list

Russia is facing more calls for sporting snubs from international rivals

Albanian officials have said their nation will not compete against Russia in any form of sport, a move notable due to the UEFA Nations League clashes scheduled between the two countries later this year.

“Albania will not take part in any sport games with the Russian Federation until the end of Ukraine’s occupation,” Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka said at the weekend, according to the AP

Russia and Albania are in the same group for the next edition of the UEFA Nations League tournament. The pair are due to meet in Tirana on June 2, with the return leg on June 13.

The other nations drawn in League B Group 2 alongside Russia and Albania are Iceland and Israel, neither of whom have officially stated their position as yet.

UEFA has already announced that Russian teams at club and international level must play home matches at neutral venues in any competitions run by the organization.

The European football governing body has also stripped Russia of the 2022 Champions League final, which was scheduled for St. Petersburg in May. 

Elsewhere, FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be forced to play under the name of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and that the national flag and anthem would be banned.  

Home matches involving Russia must also be held at neutral venues and without fans, FIFA added.

However, the organization has thus far resisted calls to remove Russian teams from international competition, including the crucial 2022 World Cup playoff matches scheduled for March.

Poland have already refused to play their qualifying match against Russia which was planned for Moscow on March 24, and potential rivals Sweden and Czech Republic have taken a similar stance.

Elsewhere, the English FA said on Sunday that it would no longer play matches against Russian teams in light of the military operation in Ukraine.

Russian officials have condemned the steps as “politicizing” football.

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