Slovakia and Norway requested FIFA to replace Russia in the European play-offs. However, the world governing body must decide in these days whether a substitute squad can take part at all. Furthermore, Ukraine asked for the postponement of their semi-final in Scotland for more than understandable reasons.
Regardless, Article 6 of the competition regulations states that “If an association withdraws or becomes excluded from the competition, FIFA shall decide at its own discretion and take the measures it deems necessary.” After the military attack on Ukraine, the Russian teams faced an exclusion from all international football competitions.
Poland, Czech Republic, and Sweden refused to face Russia
The Sbornaja initially should have hosted Poland on 24 March in the European play-off. However, the federations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic stated clearly that they would not play even on neutral territory. Nevertheless, FIFA took a comparatively long time to impose the sanction on the Russian team. This is also due to the fact that the president of the association, Gianni Infantino, received from Vladimir Putin, among other things, an “Order of Friendship”.
Now the opinions on how to proceed are divided. Because: Within the world association, some would automatically put Poland into the second round. However, the European members of the FIFA Council have a different opinion. After all, the Biało-Czerwoni, especially over the Czech Republic and Sweden, would have an excessive advantage.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) made an appeal
Behind first-placed Croatia and Russia, Slovakia finished third in Group H of the European World Cup qualifier. Here, the Sokoli, like Slovenia, collected 14 points. For its part, Norway justified its request with the fact that it finished the group phase as the best third-placed team. Albania picked up 18 points as well, but they had a significantly worse goal difference.
As mentioned above, Ukraine requested the postponement of the European play-off. The Yellow-Blue were drawn into path A together with Scotland, Wales, and Austria. Here, they should initially compete in Glasgow on 24 March. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) already provided the training infrastructure for the Ukrainian national team.
Moreover, Russia appealed against the suspension at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. Now the FIFA and the European football association UEFA must decide on the next steps.
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