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Sweden joins football boycott against Russia, expresses disappointment over FIFA not taking sterner action

Stockholm: Sweden’s football federation maintained its objection to playing any matches against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine and expressed its disappointment Monday with FIFA for keeping the Russians in World Cup qualifying.

Sweden’s official stance came a day after Poland and the Czech Republic declared they would not be accepting FIFA’s attempted compromise in ordering Russia to play without its flag and anthem at neutral venues under the name of its federation — the Football Union of Russia.

“The Swedish Football Association is disappointed with FIFA’s decision but is determined to continue to work together with other federations to cancel Russia’s matches in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers,” the body said.

“The Swedish Football Association insists that we will not play any matches against Russia given its illegal and deeply unjust invasion of Ukraine. An attitude shared by the Czech and Polish football federations, among others.”

The federation said world football “cannot silently watch and not act when countries are attacked completely unjustly.”

Swedish federation president Karl-Erik Nilsson is the senior vice president at UEFA, European football’s governing body. Nilsson said Sunday he expects a “sharper stance” from FIFA.

Russia is scheduled to play Poland in a semi-final match in the World Cup playoffs on 24 March for the right to host Sweden or the Czech Republic five days later to decide which team advances to the World Cup in Qatar.

Polish football federation president Cezary Kulesza said Sunday it was “totally unacceptable” that FIFA had not immediately expelled Russia from World Cup qualifying and said Poland is “not interested in participating in this game of appearances.”

The Czechs followed by saying FIFA’s stance had not changed their decision not to play Russia.

Another of Russia’s future opponents, Albania, also said Sunday it would not play against that country in any sports. Russia and Albania are scheduled to meet twice in June in a second-tier group of the UEFA Nations League. The group also includes Iceland and Israel.

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