Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic oppose World Cup qualifiers in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks about authorising a special military operation in Ukraine's Donbass region during a special televised address on Russian state TV, in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022, in this still image taken from video. Russian Pool/via REUTERS

Russia should not be allowed to host World Cup qualifiers next month after its invasion of Ukraine, the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said on Thursday.

Russia is currently due to host Poland in the semi-finals of its strand of the World Cup playoffs on March 24 and, if its team advances, is scheduled to host either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 in the Path B final.

"The Football Associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and Czech Republic (FACR) express their firm position that the playoff matches... should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation," they said in a joint statement.

"The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations," they added.

The associations said they expected FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to come up with alternate venues.

SvFF chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson told Reuters earlier on Thursday that playing a World Cup playoff match in Russia was "almost unthinkable".

"As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia," he said.

Russia is also set to lose the Champions League final this year with UEFA calling for an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee on Friday to move the match from St Petersburg.


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