World association

Poland and Sweden refuse to face Russia in World Cup qualifiers after Ukraine invasion

President of the Polish Football Association Cezary Kulesza announcement the news on Saturday.

“No more words, it’s time for action! Due to the escalation of Russian Federation aggression against Ukraine, the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia,” he tweeted.

“We are in talks with the (Swedish) and (Czech) federations to present a joint statement to FIFA.”

Poland were due to travel to Moscow to face Russia on Thursday, March 24, while Ukraine were due to travel to face Scotland on the same day.

The winner of the Poland-Russia match would host either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 in the final of their World Cup qualifying run.

And the Swedish Football Association (SVFF) said on Saturday that its board had decided that its men’s national team “will not play a possible playoff game against Russia, regardless of where the game is played. “.

“The Federal Council also urges FIFA to cancel the March play-offs in which Russia are participating,” the SVFF statement added.

“We find it hard to believe that FIFA will not follow our call. Russia cannot join us as long as this madness continues,” the Swedish federation said.

Bayern Munich superstar and Polish striker Robert Lewandowski echoed Kulesza’s sentiment by saying: “It’s the right decision!

“I can’t imagine playing a game with the Russian national team in a situation where armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” Lewandowski tweeted. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we cannot pretend that nothing is happening.”

Other members of the Polish squad posted joint statements on their social media – one in Polish and one in English – in line with their football association’s decision.

“We, the players of the Polish national team, together with the Polish Football Association, have decided that following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we do not intend to play the play-off against Russia,” he added. noted.

“It’s not an easy decision, but there are more important things in life than football. Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian nation and our friend from the national team, Tomasz Kedziora, who is still in Kyiv with his family.”

The statement was signed with the hashtags #SolidarnizUkraina (In solidarity with Ukraine) and #NoWarPlease.

Kedziora is a 27-year-old defender who played for Dynamo Kyiv.

The Polish Football Association had published a statement on Thursday that said she believed qualifying should not be held in Russia.

“Based on the current alarming developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the football associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and the Czech Republic (FAČR ) express their firm position that the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, scheduled for March 24-29, 2022, should not be played on the territory of the Russian Federation,” he said. he declares.

“The signatories of this appeal do not plan to travel to Russia and play football there. The military escalation we are witnessing has serious consequences and greatly reduced security for our national football teams and delegations.

“Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and come up with alternative solutions regarding where these approaching qualifiers could be played.”

Friday, UEFA announced that this year’s Champions League final will no longer take place in Saint Petersburg following an extraordinary meeting of the governing body’s executive committee.

The 2022 final was scheduled to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium, sponsored by Russian state-owned Gazprom, but will now be moved to the Stade de France in Paris to be played on the original date of May 28.

Elsewhere, some of Russia’s top athletes have spoken out against the war in Ukraine.

World number one Daniil Medvedev said he was ‘all for peace’ while Andrey Rublev also pleaded for peace, writing ‘No war please’ on camera after a win. Writing on the lens is a common practice after tennis matches.