Russia should not be allowed to host World Cup qualifying play-off matches due to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine, the respective football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have said.
The four countries are in the same UEFA qualifying pathway for Qatar 2022, with Russia set to host Poland next month. Should they win that fixture they are scheduled to be at home to the winner of Sweden versus the Czech Republic.
A joint statement from the trio said they would not consider playing matches in Russia following president Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch military action into neighbouring Ukraine, with all three insisting a neutral venue should be found.
“Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the Football Associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and Czech Republic (FACR) express their firm position that the play-off matches to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for 24 and 29 March, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the joint statement read.
“The signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there. The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations.
“Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to present alternative solutions regarding places where these approaching playoff matches could be played.”
Russia, Poland and Sweden all confirmed their place in the second-stage playoffs after finishing as runners-up in their respective qualifying groups.
They were joined by the Czech Republic as one of the two best-ranked Nations League finishers not already qualified or involved in the play-off pathway.
Russia already face serious sanctions, including sports-related punishments, following their invasion.
They are expected to be stripped of hosting rights for the Champions League Final, while there is serious doubt over the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.
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