Northern Ireland 'will not compete' against Russian teams

Pressure grows on Irish FA to refuse to play U21 game against Russia

Northern Ireland U21s pictured during their last game at Mourneview Park.

Michael Scott

Reporter:

Michael Scott

Northern Ireland’s forthcoming U21 international against Russia looks to be off after the Irish FA said it would refuse to play games against the nation following its invasion of Ukraine.

There had been growing pressure on the IFA to pull out of the game, which was due to take place at Mourneview Park in Lurgan on March 29.

In a statement this evening the Irish FA said it had “convened an extraordinary meeting of its Board today and confirmed that Northern Ireland will not compete in any fixtures for its international teams or those affiliated at club level, should the situation arise, against Russian teams for the foreseeable future.

“This includes the home UEFA U21 Euro qualifier scheduled for Tuesday 29 March.

“On behalf of everyone connected to the Irish FA, and indeed the wider football family in Northern Ireland, we send a strong message of support to our friends in Ukraine during this period.”

It comes as FIFA looks set to ban Russia from football until further notice. In recent days England, Wales, Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden have said they would refuse to play Russia at any level.

Just this afternoon the Football Association of Ireland, who are responsible for the Republic of Ireland's teams, said they "offered its full and unequivocal support to Ukraine’s FA and confirmed that no Irish team will play against Russia at any level until further notice". The Aviva Stadium is also to be lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag at 7pm this evening.

And Rod Petrie, President of the Scottish FA, said they would "not sanction the nomination of a team to participate in our scheduled Uefa Regions Cup fixture against Russia, due to be played in August" should the conflict continues. 

"This will remain our position should any other fixtures arise at any level of international football," he added.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials are banned from any organised international competitions.

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