Bosnian stars ‘speechless’ over proposed Russian friendly
The proposed November friendly match between the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team and Russia has sparked the fury of the Balkan country's two best most well-known players of their generation, Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko.
Plans were revealed on Friday for the St Petersburg friendly match to take place on November 19, one day before the kick-off of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - and former Barcelona, Juventus and Roma superstar Pjanic was quick to voice his opposition to the match which is set to take place under a veil of sanctions aimed at Russia following the onset of the military operation in Ukraine which began last February.
Russia also recently announced friendly matches against Kyrgyzstan in September and Iran in November. The national team has not played a fixture since a defeat to Croatia last November in a World Cup qualification fixture.
“The decision is not good. I am speechless,” the 107-times capped Pjanic said, according to The Guardian.
“In the national FA, they know what I think.”
Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic were among teams who stated that they would refuse to fulfil fixtures against Russia in the aftermath of the February 24 military campaign in Ukraine - decisions which came shortly before football's various governing bodies banned Russian national sides from taking part in international events.
Russian club teams have also been suspended from European competition.
Pjanic's stance was echoed by Inter Milan's Edin Dzeko, who is the top international goalscorer in the history of the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team, as well as the team's captain.
“I am against the playing of this match; I am always and only for peace,” Dzeko said to Bosnian outlet Klix.
“I have my position which is clear and which does not include playing this match, while innocent people are suffering.
“I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in these difficult times for them.”
The fixture was also robustly opposed by Benjamina Karic, major of the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo - a key battleground during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.
“Sarajevo, as the city which has been under the longest siege from aggressors, and me as a mayor strongly condemn the decision by the national FA to play a friendly match with Russia,” she tweeted.
The Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet responded to the statements made by their two most prominent players.