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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Platini rejects Russia expulsion claims

UEFA president Michel Platini has dismissed suggestions that Russia should be banned from competing at the World Cup because of the country’s ongoing political standoff with Ukraine.

Michel Platini attends a UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Bilbao.
Michel Platini says sports and politics should not mix.

• World Cup Daily: March 7

Russia has been accused of unlawfully sending troops to the Crimea region of Ukraine, though the 2018 World Cup host denies the claims.

BBC journalist Chris Morris earlier this week reported that a European Union official had suggested that there would be a push for Russia to be barred from this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

But Platini believes that it is wrong to take a political situation into the sporting arena, telling CNN: "I don't know why 11 players would not be allowed to play at the World Cup. Where is their responsibility?  Why don't you (shut down) the Embassy? Embassies are still in the country."

Former France international Platini has first-hand experience of the crossover of politics and sport having participated in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina with Les Bleus.

Many in his homeland had called on the national team to boycott the finals because of the questionable human rights record of the military junta that then governed Argentina, but Platini -- then 20 years old -- and his teammates decided to play.

"It's always better to go and explain what you think is good rather than boycott," Platini said.  "I think it's better to explain that you are not happy, which is the same opinion I had in 1978 when I was in Argentina for the World Cup.

"I thought it was better to go and explain that we were not happy with what was happening in Argentina.”

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