Poland will refuse to play Russia in the next World Cup play-offs in March as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The winner of the game, scheduled for March 25, would face either Sweden or the Czech Republic four days later for a spot in the finals in Qatar in November.
While Ukraine is unable to participate in their own country, the Polish FA has offered to host all of their home matches. Ukraine will play Scotland in their World Cup play-off on March 24 at Hampden Park, with the winner facing either Wales or Austria on March 28 in Cardiff or Vienna.
A spokesman for the Polish FA told Sky Sports News: “There are no more words; now is the time to act. The Polish national team will not participate in the play-off match against Russia due to the Russian Federation’s increased hostility towards Ukraine.
“This is the only sensible option. We are in discussions with the Swedish and Czech federations to present a united front before FIFA.”
A FIFA spokeswoman told Sky Sports News that the organization is monitoring the situation and that an update on the game will be provided as soon as possible.
Robert Lewandowski, Poland’s top scorer, tweeted: “It is the right decision! 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.”
It comes a day after Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he understands the criticism leveled at the club in response to Russia’s military invasion.
Following Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine on Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant told the House of Commons that Chelsea owner and Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich’s assets should be seized, questioned whether he should be allowed to run a football club himself, and cited a leaked government document suggesting he should not be allowed to be based in the UK.
Tuchel told reporters that the situation in Ukraine, and the possible implications, was “clouding” his team’s thoughts ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool, and justified his team’s desire to focus on football as the war progressed.
He stated, “We shouldn’t act as if this isn’t a problem. Everyone’s situation is dreadful here. Nobody could have predicted this, and it’s very unbelievable. It’s clouding our heads, as well as our anticipation for the final. It creates a lot of uncertainty, and it affects a lot of people right now, including some who are more active than we are. Obviously, we send our warmest wishes and greetings to them.”