Poles, Swedes and Czechs tell FIFA they will not play Qatar 2022 qualifiers in Russia

February 24 – The national associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have issued a joint statement refusing to play any World Cup playoffs in Russia in response to the military assault on Ukraine.

Poland are set to meet Russia in Moscow on March 24 while Sweden host the Czech Republic in another of the playoffs ties.

If Russia win their fixture, a week later they are due to host the winner of Sweden vs Czech Republic for a place in the finals in Qatar.

But now FIFA look set to have to rethink that particular playoff path after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said they will “not consider traveling to Russia” in a letter to FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura.

“Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the Football Associations of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic express their firm position that the playoff matches to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for 24 and 29 March 2022, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the letter said.

“The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations.”

The three teams said they expect an “immediate response” from FIFA and UEFA, and for the organisations to find “alternative solutions” for the upcoming matches.

In a separate statement, the Swedish FA said that “Swedish football is appalled by what we now see unfolding in Ukraine,” adding that “as the situation now stands, it will be impossible to play a possible playoff match for the World Cup in Moscow against Russia on March 29.”

And Swedish FA chief Karl-Erik Nilsson told Reuters: “It is almost unthinkable that we in a few weeks would play a football match in Russia. As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia.”

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