European nations condemned FIFA's decision to still allow Russia to participate in the World Cup qualifiers over the weekend. The sports organization had allowed the Russian team to play but on the condition that they do so without their flag and national anthem.
The Russian team was also required to play under the name of its federation, the Football Union of Russia, instead of the name of the country. The FIFA Bureau, which includes six regional football confederation presidents, said it is still continuing to talk with other sports organizations such as UEFA and IOC to determine any future sanctions and measures that will be taken against Russia over its recent invasion of Ukraine. It added that such sanctions might include the expulsion of the Russian team if the situation in Ukraine does not improve.
FIFA's decision drew backlash from several countries, which demanded that the Russian team be expelled from the games. Poland said FIFA's decision was "totally unacceptable," adding that its national team will not play with Russia even with the name change and the restrictions. Polish football federation president Cezary Kulesza said the country is not interested in playing in what he called a "game of appearances."
Poland is scheduled to play against Russia in the World Cup playoff semifinals this coming March 24. The winner of the bout is supposed to play against Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 to determine which team advances to the World Cup in Qatar.
Swedish federation president Karl-Erik Nilsson said he was "not satisfied" with FIFA's decision to allow Russia to play. The English Football Association also echoed the same sentiments, adding that it refuses to play with Russia for the "foreseeable future." Football associations from other European nations have also expressed their stance of refusing to play with the Russian team.
Under FIFA's World Cup regulations, teams that refuse to play against a certain team could face disciplinary actions and possible fines. Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and other European nations that said they would not play against Russia could face these consequences.
FIFA's decision follows a ruling issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which sanctioned Russia for concealing the investigation into state-sponsored doping. The ruling required the Russian team to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee name in the previous two Olympics. FIFA has postponed enforcing the ban on Russia participating under its own name until a possible World Cup qualifying.