Following the recent Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decision to permit the Russian Federation's under-17 team to resume competing in international competitions, the domestic Estonian Football Association (EJL) has announced that Estonia's national teams will not play against Russia.
"The decision to re-admit the Russian U-17 national teams to international competitions was made by the UEFA Executive Committee. The EJL and no one associated with the EJL was not aware of UEFA's intention in advance and was not involved in the decision-making process at any level. If we could have participated in the decision, the EJL would consist of the Russian U-17 national teams opposed to rejoining international football life," the football association said in a statement.
The EJL issued a statement Wednesday saying that: "UEFA has cast its decision, but we oppose it, so cannot, and do not want, to implement the decision. The EJL's clear, unified and unequivocal position is that the Estonian national teams will not play against Russia," the football association announced.
"UEFA has been aware of our position from the outset. The EJL is very dismayed if previous messages have led to any misunderstanding of our positions."
"The EJL considers it important to repeat other positions expressed earlier. It is important to remain united, in Estonia, especially in a situation where people are fighting for the same end: For Estonia, in support of Ukraine, and against Russia's aggression. Supporting Ukraine naturally means that we are opposed Russia's war in Ukraine."
"We hope with all our hearts that the war will culminate in Ukraine regaining control of all its territory, and as soon as possible, furthermore so that their football community can continue to do what it has been doing," the statement went on.
"Since February 2022, both the EJL and the Estonian football community have organized several actions in support of Ukraine: Amassing more than €60,000, expressing support at several Estonian league, cup and national team games via public campaigns, exempted Ukrainian youth from the license fee required for participation in the Estonian championship, organized a charity match between FC Flora and Dynamo Kyiv met with a member of the Ukrainian parliament, hosted Ukrainian youth football camps in Estonia, etc. At the FIFA Congress last April, the EJL was one of the four confederations to vote against adding Russian to FIFA's list of official languages," the statement continued.
"The EJL also contributes to Estonian national defense, specifically the Estonian Defense Forces has added EJL to the list of employers supporting the state's defenders last year, thus recognizing EJL's activities in supporting personnel participating in defense force exercises. A number of EJL employees also participated in the recent [large scale reservist] Exercise Ussisõnad."
Estonia joins at least five other UEFA nations, namely Ukraine, England, Poland, Latvia, and Sweden, who have boycotted Russian national football teams of all age groups, following the organization's decision last week to readmit the Russian U-17 teams, ie. both girls and boys teams, to competition. UEFA's argument is that minors should not be penalized for the actions of adults.
The world governing body, Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA) opted to do the same this week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Maarja Värv