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31 Oct, 2022 12:20

Balkan nation backs out of football match against Russia

Officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina had faced pressure to cancel the game
Balkan nation backs out of football match against Russia

The football authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have confirmed that their men’s national team will not play Russia in a friendly match which had been planned for St. Petersburg next month.

The Bosnian team had been due to travel to Russia for the game at the Gazprom Arena on November 19, after football officials in both countries announced the news in September.

However, the Bosnian FA subsequently came under pressure to scrap the match amid criticism from star players Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, as well as members of the organization’s board.

The Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) also said it would petition FIFA and UEFA to get the match canceled.

The issue was discussed at an executive meeting of the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday, after which it was announced that the game would not take place as planned – but could be played at a later date.

“The friendly match between the ‘A’ national teams of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia, which was supposed to be played in Saint Petersburg on 19th November, will not be played at that time,” read a message on the organization’s website.

“At today’s session of the Executive Board of the BH Football Federation, the match planned for 19th November was postponed. The BH FF president, Vico Zeljkovic, stated that the playing of this friendly match will be extended for some future date.”

Russian teams remain banned from all UEFA and FIFA competitions due to the conflict in Ukraine, although they are free to play friendly matches.

It was confirmed at the weekend that the Russian men’s team, which is managed by Valeri Karpin, will play Tajikistan in Dushanbe on November 17.

Last month, it was reported that Russia could play Iran in November, although a date and location for a potential meeting were not confirmed and it remains unclear if that game will take place.

Iran begin their 2022 Qatar World Cup campaign against England on November 21, and have a friendly match scheduled against Nicaragua 11 days before that.

Instead of playing Iran, Russian media reported last week that Karpin’s team could face Tajikistan and then travel to Uzbekistan for a friendly match three days later.

The Russian team were last in action on September 24 when they played Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek, winning 2-1.

That was their first outing since November 2021, when they lost a World Cup qualifying match against Croatia.

The UEFA and FIFA bans subsequently imposed on Russia meant the team was deprived of the chance to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, and they will also be absent from the qualification stage for the 2024 European Championship.

On a visit to Moscow in September, Bosnian Serb politician leader Milorad Dodik expressed hope that his country’s game against Russia would happen – thoughts which were echoed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, any meeting will have to wait for another time following Monday’s announcement.