Polish footballer discusses ostracism after Russia decision

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Maciej Rybus will no longer be considered for Poland national team selection

Footballer Maciej Rybus says he expected to be snubbed from the Polish national team after signing for Spartak Moscow – a decision which ended his hopes of appearing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It was announced in June that Rybus, 33, would not be considered for selection for his country after agreeing a two-year deal with Russian giants Spartak.

The left-back swapped clubs in the Russian capital after a five-year spell at Lokomotiv Moscow which yielded a Russian Premier League title, two Russian Cup successes as well as a Russian Super Cup triumph.

But his decision to join Spartak when his contract ended at Lokomotiv angered many in his homeland, despite Rybus having a Russian wife with whom he has two sons and being settled in the country. 

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Pole-axed: Spartak Moscow’s Maciej Rybus. © PressFocus / MB Media / Getty Images
Poland banishes Russia-based star from national team

An international career in which he has won 66 caps for Poland, scoring twice, is now over – although Rybus said he knew what lay in store upon signing for Spartak.

“I talked to the coach of the national team, he explained that this is the situation now,” the defender told Sport-Express.

“When I stayed in Russia, I understood 100% that I would not go to the World Cup. I decided to stay here, my family is here, I have been in Russia for a long time.”

Rybus acknowledged that in any case, his advancing years meant he may have missed out on selection for the Polish squad.  

“I’ve already played a lot of matches in the national team. It’s time to play youngsters,” said Rybus, although he added that he was open to a recall in future if Polish football bosses change their stance.

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Poland's Zbigniew Boniek. © Mateusz Slodkowski / DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Poland icon cites ‘populism’ after Russia-based star banished

Poland was among the first countries to demand footballing sanctions against Russia following the onset of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Poles were due to face Russia in a World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal in Moscow in March, but refused to play the match.

Russian teams were subsequently banned by UEFA and FIFA, handing Poland a bye to the playoff final, where they defeated Sweden to book their spot at the Qatar World Cup later this year.

Rybus has been hindered by injury at the start of the 2022/23 season, but came off the bench to play 23 minutes of Spartak’s 4-1 win against Fakel in the Russian Premier League on Saturday.

Spartak lie second in the table on 17 points from seven games played – one point behind leaders and current champions Zenit St. Petersburg.  

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