Poland will refuse to play their forthcoming World Cup play-offs with Russia in March following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The winners of the game, which was due to be played on March 25, would play Sweden or Czech Republic four days later for a place in the finals in Qatar in November.
A Polish FA spokesman has told Sky Sports News: “No more words, it’s time to act. Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine, the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia.
“This is the only right decision. We are in talks with the Swedish and Czech federations to bring forward a common position to FIFA.”
A FIFA spokesperson told Sky Sports News they are monitoring the situation and an update about the game would be communicated in due course.
Poland’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski 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 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. https://t.co/rfnfbXzdjF
— Robert Lewandowski (@lewy_official) February 26, 2022
After Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine on Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant told the House of Commons Chelsea owner and Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich should have his assets seized, questioned whether he should be allowed to operate a football club himself, and quoted a leaked government document suggesting he should not be allowed to be based in the UK.
Ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool, Tuchel told reporters the situation in Ukraine, and the potential consequences, was “clouding” his squad’s thoughts and defended their desire to focus on football as the conflict escalated.
He said: “We shouldn’t pretend this is not an issue. The situation for everyone here is horrible. Nobody expected this, it’s pretty unreal. It’s clouding our minds, and our excitement towards the final. It brings huge uncertainty, much more to all people in the moment more involved than us. We send our best wishes and regards to them, obviously.
“Still there are so many uncertainties around the situation of our club, in the UK with scenarios like this, that it makes no sense if I comment on it. We’re aware of it, we haven’t got so much insight or inside information than you might think, and in the very end, I think it’s also the right from the team and staff to be not political, to focus on sports. Not because we are hiding, but the situation is clear, it’s horrible, no doubt about it.
“I’d love to take my right not to comment on it until there is a decision made. It’s distracting us, it’s worrying us, to a certain degree I can understand it, I can understand the critical opinions towards the club and us who represent it. We cannot fully free ourselves from it.
“But maybe people can understand me as the coach, and players as players, we don’t have the insight what is going on and how much the owner is involved in all this – we don’t feel responsible for what’s going on, it’s horrible and there can’t be a doubt about it, war in Europe is unthinkable for me for a long period of time.
“Let’s wait, the impact is clear, and the discussions have an impact, but let’s be a bit more patient and understand what the measurements will be and then maybe we’ll deal with it.”