Bosnia and Herzegovina will face Russia in a friendly match in November, the Bosnian Football Federation announced on its official website on Friday, drawing criticism from Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic and the mayor of Sarajevo.
The match will take place in Saint Petersburg on November 19, a day before the scheduled start of the World Cup in Qatar. Russian national teams have been barred from international competition following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.
Bosnia failed to qualify for the World Cup. “The decision is not good. I am speechless,” Pjanic was quoted as saying by Bosnian media. “In the National Football Association they know what I think.”
The 32-year-old former Juventus and Barcelona player has made 107 international appearances since his debut in 2008. He now plays for Sharjah FC in the United Arab Emirates. The mayor of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, Benjamina Karic, also reacted negatively on social networks to this decision.
“Sarajevo as the city that has been besieged the longest by the aggressors and I as the mayor strongly condemn the National Football Association’s decision to play a friendly match with Russia,” she posted on Twitter. Sarajevo was besieged for 43 months between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian war. It was the longest siege in modern European history during the 20th century.
“Unless the decision is overturned, we will stop cooperating with the Football Association, which so far has been successful.” Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have all said they will not play their World Cup qualifiers against Russia in March before Russian national teams are banned from international competition.
World football governing body FIFA and European football governing body UEFA decided in February that all Russian teams, whether national or club, would be suspended from participating in competitions. of FIFA and UEFA after the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
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