Russian football team gets European friendly for first time since Ukraine invasion

Russia is set to host Serbia for a friendly in Moscow in March for its first men’s national team football game against a European opponent since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The Russian Football Union said in a social media post on Wednesday that the game will be played on March 21 at Dynamo Moscow’s stadium.

UEFA confirmed it had permitted for the game. Russian national teams and clubs are banned from UEFA competitions, but that suspension does not apply to friendlies.

Since the invasion of Ukraine saw Russia removed from international football competitions, the Russian national team has mostly organized friendlies against teams from Asia and Africa, as well as one game against Cuba in November.

A game against Bosnia-Herzegovina was planned in late 2022 but never took place following objections from some Bosnian players. The Russian women’s national team played friendlies against Belarus, China, Iran and Paraguay last year.

Serbian football has close ties to Russia, whose state energy firm Gazprom still sponsors storied club Red Star Belgrade after being dropped by UEFA as its longstanding commercial partner within days of the war starting in Ukraine.

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