After Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland and Sweden will not play a Qatar 2022 playoff in March in Moscow.
“In light of the Russian Federation’s escalation of aggression towards Ukraine, the Polish national team will not play a match against the Russian Republic,” Cezary Kulesza, head of the Polish Football Association, announced on Saturday.
He claims that is the “one correct decision.”
On March 24, Moscow will host Poland in the semi-finals of its World Cup playoff strand, and if its side progresses, it will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic in the Path B final on March 29.
Kulesza also stated that the association was in talks with the Swedish and Czech associations in order to present a united front before FIFA.
Polish national team players also expressed their support for the move on social media.
National team captain Robert Lewandowski said he couldn’t “imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation where there is armed aggression in Ukraine.”
“Russian footballers and fans are not to blame, but we can’t pretend nothing is happening,” he wrote on Twitter.
It was not an easy decision, according to Kamil Glik, Mateusz Klich, Matty Cash, and other players, but “there are more important things in life than football.”
They also stated their support for Ukraine, as well as “our friend from the national team, Tomasz Kedziora, who is still in Kyiv with his family.”
Sweden later stated on Saturday that it would not participate in the soccer World Cup qualifiers against Russia.
“All football contacts with Russia are currently impossible due to the illegal and extremely unfair invasion of Ukraine,” Swedish Football Association chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson said.
“As a result, we urge FIFA to decide that Russia’s playoff matches in March will be cancelled.” But, regardless of what FIFA decides, we will not play Russia in March.”
The crisis has entered its 24th day since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion that has killed scores of people, pushed over 100,000 others to evacuate Ukraine in less than 48 hours, and generated worries of a wider conflict in Europe.
When FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended a press conference hours after the invasion began on Thursday, he refused to make a decision on the playoffs.
“FIFA condemns the use of force,” he said, adding that he was “shocked” by what he saw but would not hurry into a decision about shifting the matches.
“The first match is in a month, and we hope that this matter is rectified well before then,” he stated.
This was started at the start of march, and as of now the war is still going on, and the Poland-Russia match has been called off, and so is the Sweden-Russia game!