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Five European countries boycott UEFA football tournament over Russian participation

Ukraine, England, Poland, Latvia, and Sweden oppose the readmission of Russian teams to European football.
Poland v Russia - Group A: UEFA EURO 2012
Poland v Russia – Group A: UEFA EURO 2012
Five European countries boycott UEFA football tournament over Russian participation

Ukraine, England, Poland, Latvia, and Sweden will boycott competitions of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) involving Russian football teams that were admitted to the U-17 competition among the European national football teams with players under the age of 17, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

The English U-17 team will not compete with the Russian U-17 team in the same UEFA tournament as long as all other Russian football teams are banned from the UEFA competitions because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Times reported, referring to the English Football Association.

“We do not support the admission of Russia to UEFA competitions. Our position remains unchanged: England will not play against Russia,” the English Football Association announced in its statement.

Sweden, the UEFA U-17 tournament host, also opposed the UEFA’s readmission of the Russian national football team under the age of 17, Expressen reported, referring to the statement of the President of the Swedish Football Federation, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

“We do not intend to participate in any competitions with Russian participants,” the President of the Swedish Football Federation, Fredrik Reinfeldt, said at a press conference on 27 September.

The Latvian Football Federation press service announced that Latvia won’t participate in the UEFA’s U-17 tournament if the Russian team is allowed to participate.

“The Latvian Football Federation (LFF) confirms that the Latvian national football teams of all levels will not play against Russian teams, regardless of the venue of such games or the form of representation of Russian athletes. This contradicts the LFF’s firm position on the war that Russia has started in Ukraine, and this position will remain in force until the end of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Latvian Football Federation announced.

According to the statement of the Latvian Football Federation, Latvian football teams will not play with Russian teams “regardless of the sanctions that may be imposed on the federation for this, and regardless of where the matches are to take place.”

The President of the Polish Football Union, Cezary Kulesza, said he was surprised by the UEFA’s decision to allow the Russian team to compete in European football tournaments again.

“If Russian teams are allowed to compete, our teams will not compete with them. This is the only right decision,” Cezary Kulesza wrote on Twitter (X).

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, UEFA, like most international sports federations, decided to exclude Russian football teams from its tournaments.

However, on 26 September, the President of UEFA, Aleksander Čeferin, announced that UEFA would ease the ban. According to the UEFA’s decision, Russian male and female football teams under the age of 17 will participate in national team tournaments under a neutral flag and without the national anthem and Russian kit. The matches will also not be allowed to be played in Russia.

“UEFA wants to remain clear about its position until the war ends and we get peace. But to ban children from our tournaments and discriminate against them is not right,” Aleksander Čeferin said in a statement.

The Ukrainian Football Association called on other European federations to boycott the competition and announced that Ukrainian football teams would not play in the tournaments in which Russian teams are allowed to participate.

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