Russian soccer player Artem Dzyuba has declined a call-up to the national team because he has family in Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russian forces.
The 33-year-old forward is the joint top scorer of the Russian men’s national team and is its former captain.
Russian coach Valery Karpin said in a statement on the Russian Football Union website Tuesday that “in connection with the difficult situation in Ukraine, where many of his relatives live,” Dzyuba had asked him to be excused from the national team for family reasons.
Russia called up 27 players Tuesday for a national team training camp as it challenges a ruling by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, barring it from playing international games.
Russia was set to host Poland on March 24 for a World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal. Poland cited the war in refusing to play against Russia, with FIFA and European soccer authority UEFA later banning Russian national and club teams from their international competitions.
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