Ukraine World Cup playoff postponed after Russian invasion
FIFA has officially postponed the semifinals of Ukraine’s World Cup playoffs following Russia’s invasion of the country, the sport’s governing body announced on Tuesday.
Ukraine were due to face Scotland in a playoff semi-final on March 24, although the country asked FIFA last week to postpone the game. Ukraine and Scotland now play in June. The winner of that match then meets the winners of Wales and Austria in the final, also in June. Wales and Austria will play their semi-final match on March 24th as normal.
Almost all members of Ukraine’s national team have remained in the country since Russia invaded late last month. It is unclear if they are fighting in the conflict, although the Ukrainian government has required all men between the ages of 18 and 60 to stay in the country and help out.
At least 15 members of the national team also play in domestic club teams. This league was suspended last month when the conflict with Russia escalated and the team was unable to practice or coach in any way.
It’s unclear when the squad can start training again as Russia is still at war in Ukraine. However, the delay in the qualifier gives them at least a chance to still make it to Qatar.
Russia was eliminated from World Cup qualifying
The sports world has imposed numerous sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
Both FIFA and UEFA have already banned the Russian national team from all international competitions, including the World Cup, and UEFA moved the Champions League final from Russia. Electronic Arts also eliminated all Russian teams from the FIFA video game.
As a result, FIFA officially pulled Russia out of World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday, giving Poland a bye. Poland and Russia would play Sweden and the Czech Republic in the Path B semifinals.
Poland now meets winners Sweden and the Czech Republic on March 29th.
The World Cup in Qatar is scheduled to start on November 21st.