India’s football friendly versus Belarus later this month has been abandoned due to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine. The verdict comes on the back of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) proposal that athletes and officials from Russia and its close ally, Belarus, be cut-off from the sporting arena.
India were supposed to play 2 International friendlies this month, versus Bahrain on March 23rd, afterwards Belarus on March 26th. Indian players had classified the matches as ‘huge opportunities’ with focus on the Asian Cup qualifiers, to be played in June. Both of the matches were to be played in Manama.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary-general Kushal Das stated they will rather try and schedule two matches versus Bahrain, who are ranked 91 in the world.
“Since Belarus has been suspended, we can’t play them,” Das notified. “We have a match with Bahrain so we are trying to see if we can organize two matches with them.”
The match facing Belarus, ranked 94th in the world, would have been the first time in more than a decade that India would have competed a European team. The last time India played against European competitor was in February 2012, when they were defeated 3-0 to Azerbaijan.
Concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, the IOC’s executive board suggested on Monday that International Federations and Organizations “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials” in tournaments.
Late Monday night, FIFA debarred Russia from International football, counting this month’s World Cup qualifier.