Ukraine crisis: Poland to boycott World Cup play-off against Russia

Ukraine crisis: Poland to boycott World Cup play-off against Russia

Poland will boycott their World Cup play-off against Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine, with captain Robert Lewandowski saying “we can’t pretend that nothing is happening”.

Polish football association president Cezary Kulesza has said the team “does not intend” to play the game.

Russia are due to host Poland in Moscow on 24 March, while Ukraine travel to Scotland on the same day.

“The right decision,” tweeted Lewandowski.

On Thursday, Fifa said it would monitor the situation after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic said in a joint statement that play-off matches should not be played in Russia.

“No more words, time to act,” tweeted Kulesza on Saturday.

The winner of the play-off tie between Sweden and the Czech Republic could meet Russia for a place at the World Cup finals, which get under way in Qatar in November.

Sweden have joined Poland in saying they will not play against Russia regardless of where the match is played because of the “illegal and deeply unjust invasion of Ukraine”.

The country’s football association also urged Fifa to cancel the play-off matches involving Russia.

The Scottish FA is in talks with Uefa over the home World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine and the planned women’s World Cup qualifier in Kyiv in April.

Meanwhile, former world heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko, whose older brother Vitali is now mayor of Kyiv, urged people across the world to help Ukraine to “stop Russian aggression”.

“I’m addressing the entire world to stop this war which Russia has started.

There is no time to wait because it is going to bleed into a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

“You need to act now.

An hour or by tomorrow will be too late.

Please get into action now, don’t wait.

Stop this war.

Other cancelled or postponed sporting activities
Many sports governing bodies, clubs and players have reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by cancelling or postponing events due to be held in the region.

The 2022 Champions League final will be played in Paris after Uefa – European football’s governing body – moved the match away from St Petersburg
Uefa also ordered Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams to play their home matches away from the region “until further notice”
Uefa is looking to end its major £30m-a-year sponsorship deal with Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom
Russia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, due to take place in Sochi in September, has been cancelled
International sports federations were urged to move or cancel events currently planned in Russia or Belarus by the International Olympic Committee
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has postponed World Cup 2023 qualifiers involving Netherlands v Russia on 27 February and Great Britain v Belarus on 28 February
Manchester United have terminated their sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot
On Thursday, football clubs, players and fans showed their support for Ukraine with anti-war T-shirts and banners.

BBC/Emmanuel Ukoh
Ukraine crisis: Poland to boycott World Cup play-off against Russia