Ukraine Invasion: Poland, others cancel FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Russia

Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Two European countries, Poland and Sweden in condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine say they will not play against Russia in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The football governing bodies of both countries respectively on Saturday, cancelled the playoff matches fixed to fill the vacant spaces in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

With their players supporting the call, Poland stated it has refused to play against the Russians over the growing escalation of the war against Ukraine.

Poland’s FA said they were already in touch with the Swedish and Czech counterparts to present a complaint to the World Football governing body, FIFA.

Head of Poland Football Association, Cezary Kulesza through his Twitter account said, “In light of the escalation of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, the Polish national team is not going to play a match against the Russian Republic.

“This is the only right decision. We’re in talks with Swedish and Czech associations to present a common position to FIFA,” he added.

Russia on March 24 is supposed to host Poland in the World Cup qualifiers playoff and if they win in the contest they will play who wins in the contest between the Czech Republic and Sweden on March 29.

Notwithstanding where the match will be played, the Swedish FA has rejected the slightest opportunity of playing with Russia.

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Karl-Erik Nilsson, Chairman of Sweden’s Football Association said, “The illegal and deeply unjust invasion of Ukraine currently makes all football exchanges with Russia impossible.

“We, therefore, urge FIFA to decide that the playoff matches in March in which Russia participates will be cancelled. But regardless of what FIFA chooses to do, we will not play against Russia in March,” he added.

However, the Polish team players have expressed their support for the call to cancel the match against Russia.

The team’s captain Robert Lewandoski took to his Twitter account to express his support with Poland’s FA over the steps taken to express solidarity with Ukraine.

“I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues.”

“Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening,” he added.

Moreover, Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Kamil Glik, Mateusz Klich, Matty Cash, and others have also taken to their social media accounts to support the call to cancel the match against Russia.

Szczesny said, “I refuse to play against players who choose to represent the values and principles of Russia.

“I refuse to take part in a sporting event that legitimates the actions of the Russian government,” he added.

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