The Ukrainian Football Association published an open letter to FIFA and UEFA on its website
Edin Dzeko (R) and Miralem Pjanic (L) (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images) © Getty Images
Hours after it was reported that key players from the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team opposed their country’s scheduled November friendly match with Russia, the Ukrainian Football Association has published an open letter on its website in which it called upon football’s governing bodies to step in to prevent the game from taking place.
It was revealed on Friday that Bosnia and Russia are set to play one another in St Petersburg on November 19, the eve of the kickoff of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with exhibition games against both Kyrgyzstan and Iran also scheduled.
However, the announcement of the Bosnia game was immediately slammed by figures within the football community amid suspensions placed upon Russian national sides and club teams in the wake of the country’s military campaign in Ukraine — despite the sanctions only affecting competitive fixtures and not friendly games.
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Nonetheless, Bosnia’s two most famous players, former Juventus and Barcelona star Miralem Pjanic and Bosnia captain Edin Dzeko, quickly expressed their opposition to the fixture — with Dzeko stating that he would refuse to take part in the match if it goes ahead as planned.
Ukrainian international Artem Kravets, meanwhile, also called on other Bosnian players to refuse to play in the proposed match.
The Ukrainian Football Association has also expressed its outrage at the game.
In an open letter published on its official website, they addressed the Bosnian football authorities in which they said that fulfilling the fixture would show that they “support the actions and actions of the Russian government in Ukraine”, and that doing so would “harm the image” of their country.
“We remind you that due to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, all Russian teams were suspended from participating in all international official FIFA and UEFA competitions,” the open letter states.
“In such a situation, the decision of the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina looks as if it is aimed at supporting the actions and actions of the Russian government in Ukraine regarding the continuation of the war. We ask you to reconsider the decision, which harms the image of your country and the relations between our associations.”