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Czech Republic refuse to face Russia in Qatar 2022 qualifier

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The Czech Republic have joined Poland and Sweden in refusing to face Russia in the play-offs for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar regardless of the match venue.

A statement Sunday said the executive committee of the Czech federation and players agreed it was “not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation.”

Poland were first to say they would not play Russia in their March 24 play-off semi-final even if the tie was moved from Moscow.

The winners of Sweden versus Czech Republic in the other path B semi-final were then scheduled to go to Russia, if they won, for the March 29 final.

The three nations initially called on FIFA to move matches from Russia, something the global football body declined to do immediately.

Russia is becoming increasingly isolated in the sports world and European football ruling body UEFA has already said matches cannot be played in Russia, or Ukraine.

It is also set to consider the sponsorship deal it has with Russian state firm Gazprom.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German federation, said it was “dirty money” that “we cannot take any more”.

Presidential candidate Peter Peters also said it was “a clear yes” to ending the cooperation.

Gazpom sponsor the UEFA Champions League and Euro 2024 in Germany but Schalke 04, a second division side, have already removed their name from their shirts.

Volleyball is one of the few sports still considering a major event in Russia with the men’s world championships scheduled for August.

This is under review though with some nations saying they will not travel to Russia to take part.

The world judo governing body (IJU) meanwhile has taken personal action against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“In light of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine, the International Judo Federation announces the suspension of Mr. Vladimir Putin’s status as Honorary President and Ambassador of the International Judo Federation,” it said in a statement.

Putin is a keen judo player and has reached the level of black belt in the sport.

Russia has huge influence in judo with IJU president Marius Vizer considered a friend of Putin and the European governing body is led by Russian Sergey Soloveychik.

Both bodies receive considerable sponsorship from Russia.

The planned Grand Slam in Kazan in May was cancelled on Friday.

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