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Bosnia decision to play Russia friendly sparks backlash

Criticism at home

11 September, 00:45
(ANSA-AFP) - SARAJEVO, SEP 11 - The Bosnia and Herzegovinia football federation's decision on Friday to accept a friendly with Russia in Saint Petersburg in November sparked criticism at home. Bosnia's national football federation (NSBiH) said in a statement it has accepted an offer from the Russian federation to play a friendly on November 19. Sarajevo mayor Benjamina Karic slammed the decision and warned that if it is not revoked the capital will cease its cooperation with the federation.

"Sarajevo, as the city that was under siege by the aggressor for the longest time, and me, as the mayor, strongly condemn the decision of the football federation to play a friendly with Russia," Karic said on Facebook. Sarajevo was besieged by Serb forces during a brutal war in the 1990s. Karic said the move was "discrediting" Bosnia. Following the invasion of Ukraine, Russia's national team and clubs were suspended from all FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Bosnia midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who previously played for Juventus and Barcelona, said it was "not a good decision". "When the national team starts playing well, something always goes wrong. I am speechless. The NSBiH knows my position," Pjanic told website (ANSA-AFP).

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