Paris, Feb 27 (IANS) World Cup champions France have demanded that Russia should be expelled from the 2022 World Cup with three countries refusing to face them in the playoffs.
The president of the French Football Association, Noel Le Graet, has called on sport governing body FIFA to throw Valeri Karpin’s side out of qualifying after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday.
“The world of sport, and especially football, cannot remain neutral. I certainly would not oppose the expulsion of Russia,” La Graet told Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday.
“In these dramatic circumstances, how can one envisage playing football against this country,” he added.
The call from the French federation comes after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic all said they would not be facing Russia in the playoffs. After finishing second to Croatia in their group, the 2018 World Cup hosts were due to meet Poland in the first round of the qualifiers in ‘Path B’.
The winner of that game was due to face the winner of Sweden vs Czech Republic, but all three sides have refused to face them already, with the first games set for March 24th.
Speaking about the situation, Poland and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski said, “I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues.”
“Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”