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Updated: Malta FA to follow FIFA and UEFA directives ahead of Russia qualifiers

President Vassallo condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The Malta Football Association has made it clear that it condemns vehemently Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine state and will be following the directives of FIFA and UEFA ahead of the national teams’ qualifiers against the Russians in the months of March and April this year, president Bjorn Vassallo told the Times of Malta yesterday.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week has sparked harsh condemnation from all quarters in international sport during the past few days with several national governing bodies making their position clear on the situation over the weekend.

In fact, the FAs of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic all declared that have no plans of facing Russia in the World Cup play-offs next month, while the English FA said that its national teams will not be facing Russia in the foreseeable future and urged UEFA and FIFA to kick the Russians out of the 2022 World Cup and the women’s Euros.

The Malta U-21 national team are due to host Russia in a European Championship qualifier on March 25 while the women’s national team will be up against the Russians in a World Cup qualifier on April 12.

Russia is also scheduled to play in North Ireland four days later in the UEFA Under 21 competition and while the Russian women’s team play in Montenegro before coming to Malta face the home side in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. 

Contacted by the Times of Malta, president Vassallo made it clear that while the local football governing body is against the Russian aggression in Ukraine he emphasised that ultimately all national football associations have to follow the directives issued by UEFA and FIFA on the exclusion or not of Russia from football competitions.

“The position of the Malta Football Association is quite clear over the international commitments of the Russian Under 21 national team and their women’s selection who play qualifying matches in Malta,” Vassallo said in a statement.

“The association always follows the directives issued by FIFA and UEFA because in both cases we are talking on international commitments and in case of further sanctions issued by these governing bodies we will adhere to them.

“In fact, after yesterday’s meeting of the FIFA Bureau, where the member associations were given an initial direction, the Malta FA took note of the decisions taken and adhered to them.

“Since, it is expected that in the coming hours there will be further developments which could bring to a unilateral ban, this time from the International Olympic Committee over Russia’s participation in world sport, the Malta FA will continue to follow the situation closely and in case further sanctions are imposed, we will ensure coherence.”

Vassallo, however, emphasised that the Malta FA were against the violence in Ukraine and hopes that the sport movement will remain strong and united in the decisions taken on the matter.

“The Malta Football Association unequivocally emphasises that we are against the invasion and the use of military forces in Ukraine and we are always committed to spread a message of unity and friendship between the populations through the game of football,” Vassallo said.

“We believe that the sports movement should always remain united in its decisions on this subject.”

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