French football federation’s president Noel Le Graet has floated the idea of removing Russia from the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought about widespread protests and sanctions, even from the footballing world. In the latest revelation, the France Footballing Federation (FFF) has floated the idea of expelling Russia from participating in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, reports Goal.
Speaking to Le Parisien (h/t Goal), FFF’s president Noel Le Graet has offered his thoughts on the current geopolitical situation in Europe and had a rather interesting answer when asked about Russia’s potential exclusion from the World Cup.
“This is something that I have not yet discussed with other federations,” Le Graet said. “I am leaning toward the exclusion of Russia from the next World Cup. This is my first impulse. Usually, I believe that sport is there to reconcile people and ease tensions.”
“But this is going much too far. And the world of sport, and in particular football, cannot remain neutral. I will certainly not oppose the exclusion of Russia,” he added, suggesting he would be open to the expulsion of Russia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Finishing second behind Croatia in Group H of the European qualifiers, Russia are yet to secure their legal qualification to the World Cup. They are set to face Poland in the qualifying playoffs, but the Polish FA has strongly voiced its disapproval of the tie and has opted to boycott the game on humanitarian grounds.
Along with the Czech Republic and Sweden, the Polish FA have put out a joint statement, citing their agreement in refusing to play against Russia in the qualifying playoffs.
In further sanctions, UEFA is expected to end its long sponsorship deal with state-owned Russian oil giant Gazprom. They have also opted to shift the location of the Champions League final from Saint Petersburg to Saint-Denis, in the outskirts of Paris.
The calls for Russia to be expelled from the upcoming World Cup have not been met with much support as of yet. But as the geopolitical tension in Europe escalates, the Russian FA may have to bear the brunt of several more sanctions, including the possibility of their exit from the qualifying playoffs.