The Russian national team: return to the football stage through the back door?

Punishment, Kyrgyzstan, EM-Aus?
Russian football self-pity pretends to be normal

The Russian national team is isolated in football. She did not participate in the Nations League and the draw for the European Championship. But there are also countries that invite you to participate in the test – more or less old friends. That is not the meaning of punishment.

Russian football also has friends. Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, is almost 3,000 kilometers from Moscow and is set to host the first friendly match of the 2018 World Cup hosts, who have been isolated since the attacks in Ukraine, on Saturday. “It’s important to show that we have life”, coach Valery Karpin, whose national team is preparing for a trip to the former Soviet republic at the training center in Novogorsk. Not out much.

Images of training under flood fire and reports of injured specialists (Igor Diweev could not play) show a normality that cannot be normal from a Western perspective. The Russian national team is excluded from the competitions of the European football confederation UEFA and the world association FIFA. The once-influential Russian association RFS, which, unlike Belarus, was not allowed to participate in the draw for Euro 2024 in Germany after Tuesday’s decision, is trying to return to the football scene through the back door. Domestic Premjer-Liga is played without any restrictions.

Zoff about the Bosnia game

Kyrgyzstan and World Cup Iran participating in November have been confirmed as friendly opponents, and now there is a big upset over the game against Bosnia-Herzegovina scheduled before the World Cup in Qatar. The star players of the guests who were invited to St. Petersburg, including former Bundesliga professional Edin Dzeko, announced their rejection, and internal political discussions were held in Bosnia. Ukrainian football is watching the development with concern.

Big names in the Ukrainian association around Andriy Shevchenko and Oleh Blokhin “urgently” called on the Bosnian coaching staff to ban the game. “We are fighting for the future of the democratic, civilized world, including Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said the opening letter. Ukraine’s game in the World Cup qualifiers in mid-November 2021 in Zenica is the last game before the invasion of Russia.

In Russia, there is great anger with any discussion. “Under the current conditions, playing with Kyrgyzstan is already successful,” said Karpin. Duma deputy Dmitry Pirog from the Kremlin United Russia party complained again about “anti-Russian sentiment” in an interview with the newspaper “Sport-Express”. Should the association invite opponents from Latin America or Africa? “The level of teams like Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Nigeria or Cameroon is not lower than Bosnia. I don’t see any sadness if the game with Bosnia is canceled.”

There is no finale for the EM in Germany

UEFA declares that friendly matches are not part of UEFA competitions and therefore are not the responsibility of the association. The planned Bosnia game “does not contradict the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee to exclude Russian teams from UEFA competitions”. The RFS announced on Tuesday before UEFA itself that it will not take part in the draw for the 2024 final on October 9 in Frankfurt/Main due to sanctions. 4 years ago, the Russians organized the World Cup as a big show for the president. Good Vladimir Putin.

UEFA’s refereeing panel met on the Croatian island of Hvar on Tuesday. The association revealed that Russia will be excluded from the finals in two years. Initially, the communication about the meeting was only about participating “in the match for the qualification match”, which starts in March 2023.

Because only the team and not the Russian association was suspended, Alexander Dyukov, the former president of Zenit St. Petersburg, also part of the UEFA Exko. Ukrainian member Andriy Pavelko was only present via video link at the UEFA conference in Vienna in mid-May, wearing a jacket and standing near a bomb crater.

The “Guardian” of England reported last Monday that the Russian Football Association has sent a letter to UEFA demanding the suspension of Oleksandr Petrakov, the coach of the national team of Ukraine. Petrakov told the newspaper in an interview in April: “I think that if they come to Kyiv, I will take my gun and defend my city.” Deputy Duma Svetlana Zhurova was angry and demanded: “This is a call to kill. There should be criminal proceedings for this.”

(This article was first published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.)

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