UEFA comments on Russian plans for friendly match amid Ukrainian fury
European football governing body UEFA says the planned international football friendly match between Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina set for St. Petersburg in November does not breach its current sanctions, according to TASS.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) and its Bosnian counterpart confirmed last week that a match between the two countries is being planned for the 67,000-seater Gazprom Arena on November 19.
In addition, the RFU previously announced a friendly game against Kyrgyzstan scheduled for Bishkek on September 24, and a contest with Iran set for sometime in November, but with a date and location yet to be determined.
The visit of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Russia has caused particular fury with the Ukrainian football authorities, who issued a statement demanding that UEFA and FIFA intervene to prevent the match from going ahead.
The Ukrainian Football Association also claimed that Bosnian football bosses would “harm the image of their country” by being part of the occasion.
In a statement to TASS, however, UEFA said that friendly matches were not under its jurisdiction, and indicated that the game would not contravene the ban imposed on Russian teams from UEFA competitions.
FIFA has not yet responded to a similar request to clarify its stance, TASS reported.
Bosnian football officials have faced criticism from two of their most high-profile players for the decision to head to Russia, with both Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko questioning the move.
The Russian men’s national team have not played since their FIFA Qatar World Cup qualifying match against Croatia in Split last November.
Managed by Valeri Karpin, the team were subsequently prevented from attempting to reach Qatar 2022 after being removed from their European qualifying playoff semifinal against Poland which had been scheduled for Moscow in March.
Poland were handed a bye and went on to book their place in Qatar by beating Sweden in their qualifying playoff final.
Russian football officials have since lost an appeal against the UEFA and FIFA bans with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, but have indicated they could take the case to a higher authority in the form of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.