Football

Russia’s potential World Cup opponents Poland, Sweden, Czech Rep. want venue switch

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The Football Associations of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic have released a statement urging FIFA to stage any World Cup playoff against Russia outside of the country following its attack on Ukraine.

Russia face Poland and the winner of that match plays whoever triumphs between Sweden and Czech Republic in a playoff to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

In a letter addressed to the FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samourathe three associations wrote: « Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation the Football Associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and Czech Republic (FACR) express their firm position that the playoff matches to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for March 24 and 29, 2022, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation.

« The signatories to this appeal do not consider traveling to Russia and playing football matches there. The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations.

« Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to present alternative solutions regarding places where these approaching playoff matches could be played. »

Sweden manager Karl-Erik Nilsson told Reuters that playing a football match in Russia is « almost unthinkable. »

Sources have told ESPN that the 2022 Champions League final, which is set to be held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on May 28 will be moved.

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A UEFA statement read: « Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the UEFA president has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for 10 am CET [4 a.m. ET] on Friday Feb. 25, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.

« Further communication will be made after the meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee. »

Meanwhile, German second-tier side Schalke said they have removed the logo of Russian energy company Gazprom from their shirts.

Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian players appealed for help with an Instagram message as they sought refuge in one of the city’s hotels.

Information from Reuters was used in this report

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