FIFA sanctions are about ‘politics and big money’ – Russian official
A State Duma deputy has criticized FIFA’s sanctions against Russia
FIFA’s decision to force Russia to play football matches at a neutral venue and without its flag and anthem is based on political motives, according to State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev.
Under pressure to issue an outright ban on Russia from international football, FIFA stopped short of that step on Sunday but announced a series of measures against the country because of the military operation in Ukraine.
That included ordering Russian national teams to play at a neutral venue and compete under the name of ‘Football Union of Russia (RFU)’, without the flag or anthem.
Countries including 2022 World Cup playoff rivals Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic had earlier announced that they would refuse to play Russia.
But according to Russian Duma Deputy Svishchev, who is chairman of the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, the move is fundamentally “unfair.”
“How can the national team of Russia be deprived of the right to play under its own flag, to deprive it of playing at its stadiums? We’ve already gone through all this at the Olympic Games… without trial or investigation. File a lawsuit against us, let your side bring their arguments and let our side bring their arguments, and let the court decide,” Svishchev told Sport24.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne is a respected organization that is the final party in the dispute between sports parties. The RFU must express its opinion, I think this will be done soon.
“But it is unreasonable to deprive us of the right [to play without our name, flag and anthem]. We know that there were activists in football: different Poles, Englishmen, who screeched to completely exclude our country from the football family.
“There were radicals like that, so FIFA made a decision that seemed like they punished us, but on the other hand, not really. However, they said they reserve the right to consult further with the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and take additional sanctions.
“What does football have to do with political events and conflicts in different countries? I don’t understand. Everything is calm on Russian territory, stadiums are being built, children are playing football in schools, Russian and international matches are held.
“To deprive Russia of this right when it deserves it, even the fact that in St. Petersburg they took away the right to host the Champions League final from us, I think that this is definitely illegal. I can say one thing: there are two factors that play a role. The first is politics, FIFA doesn’t want to be some kind of irritant.
“And secondly, big money, because FIFA is backed by the money of big advertisers and sponsors. But basically this is money from overseas, large global monopolies that dictate the policy of FIFA. Here, in the conditions of the most powerful economic sanctions against Russia, these same levers are connected here as well. This is not about football.”
Russia is due to meet Poland in a World Cup qualifying playoff on March 24, originally scheduled for Moscow, with the winner of that match meeting either Sweden or Czech Republic later that month.
All three countries have said they will refuse to play Russia at any location because of the military operation launched by Moscow in the newly recognized Donbass regions and Ukraine itself. The English Football Association issued a similar statement at the weekend.
Meanwhile, FIFA’s European counterpart UEFA has ordered Russian teams to play their home matches at neutral venues for any competitions run by the organization.
UEFA has also removed the 2022 Champions League final from St. Petersburg and relocated it to Paris.