Some of the most prominent figures in Bosnia's football scene, as well as fans, have condemned the decision of the BiH Football Federation to accept an invitation for the country’s national team to play a friendly match against Russia in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
On Friday, the emergency committee of BiH’s Football Association voted to accept the invitation from Russia’s football association.
The decision sparked outrage among the public and fans. The most passionate supporters of the national team, the BHFanaticos, decided to boycott the match.
Some of the players, such as Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Anel Ahmedhodzic called for it to be cancelled as well.
Former member of Bosnia’s national team, Vedad Ibisevic, told N1 he thinks the decision is the result of “purely a political game” with the goal to damage the reputation of BiH and its team.
“I think that it is now clear to everyone, the fans, but also to the players, who is in charge in our football association, and that their goal is to damage the reputation of the national team, and therefore the country, which has been painstakingly built for years”, he said.
According to sports journalist Samir Sisic, whether the match will take place or not matter little at this point, as the damage has already been done.
“We have already been labelled. Whenever the name Bosnia and Herzegovina is mentioned in football circles, the first association will be ‘they played the first match with Russia which is under the sanctions of FIFA and UEFA, Russia which has committed aggression against Ukraine’,” he said.
Public pressure over the decision also made Fuad Colpa, who voted to accept the invitation, change his mind.
“I will talk to the president after the match with Montenegro to cancel the decision,” he told N1.
While citizens in Sarajevo mostly oppose the decision, citizens of the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity have mixed feelings on the issue.