Poland refuse to play Russia in World Cup qualifying play-off

The Polish FA have confirmed they have no intention of playing Russia in their World Cup qualifying play-off match scheduled for next month following the invasion of Ukraine.

The pair are due to clash in Russia on 24 March, with Sweden or Czech Republic potentially facing a trip to Moscow five days later should Russia emerge victorious.

But following a joint statement on Friday that saw the governing bodies of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic condemn Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, the head of the Polish FA, Cezary Kulesza, has now confirmed his country do not intend to play.

“No more words, 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,” Kulesza said in a social media post.

“This is the only right decision. We are in talks with the federations of Sweden and the Czech Republic to bring forward a common position to FIFA.”

His stance was quickly backed up by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski on social media, with the Bayern Munich striker writing: “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.”

A full statement from Poland’s players followed, with a number of player sharing on social media: “We, the players of the Polish national team, together with the Polish Football Association, decided that as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we do not intend to play in the play-off match against Russia.

“It is not an easy decision, but there are more important things in life than football, Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian nation and our friend from the national team, Tomasz Kędziora, who is still in Kyiv with his family. #SolidarnizUkrainq #NoWarPlease.”

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