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4 Mar, 2022 17:28

Russia football manager describes ‘hopeless situation’ as World Cup dream fades

Russia manager Valeri Karpin is set to convene his players in Moscow – but admits their hopes of reviving their World Cup hopes are faint
Russia football manager describes ‘hopeless situation’ as World Cup dream fades

Russia football manager Valeri Karpin has called for "peace" and described an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn decisions by FIFA and UEFA suspending Russian teams from matches as "a search for hope in a hopeless situation".

The national team will reportedly hold a seven-day training camp in Moscow in the hope that the court will allow them to play a crucial playoff match.

Russia's hopes of reaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup are in severe jeopardy after Karpin's side were barred from taking part in matches overseen by the governing bodies following the invasion of Ukraine.

Having narrowly missed out on automatic qualification for the tournament, which takes place in November and December, Russia had been due to host Poland in Moscow on March 24.

The winner of the concurrent semifinal playoff between Sweden and the Czech Republic would then have visited Moscow on March 29 to decide who would reach the finals.

Even if the suspension was lifted, the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have all publicly declared they will not play against Russia.

“Honestly, there was no horror, no shock," new boss Karpin told Match TV about the dispiriting turn of events in his squad's pursuit of a place at the most prestigious event on the football calendar.

"When this happened... I told my wife that we would not be at the playoffs. There was an understanding of what it could be.

"I can’t call the result logical. Do I hope that the playoffs will take place after the appeal of the verdict in CAS? Let's hope we can fool ourselves. This is a search for hope in a hopeless situation."

Karpin expressed himself more broadly in a statement issued by the national team. "Football is important," he pointed out.

"It brings us together and unites us. Things will be difficult without it. I am confident the national team and the clubs should be able to continue to play.

"Speaking on a global scale, I just hope this will finally end, peace will come and people will stop dying." 

Karpin succeeded former boss Stanislav Cherchesov in July 2021 and only missed out on progressing to the finals through the group qualifying stage courtesy of a late goal for Croatia in Russia's final game of the campaign in Zagreb.

The national team will now train between March 21 and 27, according to Russian football expert Fabio Aleixo – a camp they had likely scheduled before the invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA have said Russia are barred from competitions "until further notice" and it is unlikely Karpin's team will be reinstated unless an agreement between the country's leaders and Ukraine is reached.

Russia would also be required to compete as the RFU under a neutral flag and anthem under the FIFA orders.

Responding after FIFA made its announcement, the Russian Football Union said it "categorically disagrees" and reserved the right to challenge the verdict "in accordance with international sports law."

“We believe that this decision is contrary to the norms and principles of international competition, as well as the spirit of sports," it added.

“It has an obvious discriminatory character and harms a huge number of sportspeople, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams and, most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organizations must protect first of all.

“Such actions divide the international sports community, which has always adhered to the principles of equality, mutual respect and independence from politics."