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24 Feb, 2022 12:41

Playing in Moscow ‘unthinkable’ – Swedish FA

The possibility of playing a World Cup qualifier in Moscow next month is 'unthinkable’, says the Swedish FA
Playing in Moscow ‘unthinkable’ – Swedish FA

Karl-Erik Nilsson, the President of the Swedish Football Association, says that it would be "unthinkable" for Sweden to play a World Cup qualification playoff in Russia next month given the special military operation launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin overnight.

Sweden are set to play the Czech Republic in a month's time, with the winner of that fixture set to take on the winner of the knockout fixture between Russia and Poland.

But faced with the prospect of a pivotal game against Russia, Nilsson says that it would be unfathomable to travel to Moscow in a sporting context.

"The world situation is completely different today and all thoughts go to Ukraine and the many friends we have there," said Nilsson, via translation.

"As the situation looks today, it feels impossible to imagine that in a few weeks we will possibly play a match in Russia.

"We are awaiting information from international and national authorities and for dialogue with FIFA and UEFA on the issue. We have to follow developments day by day, but right now it feels unthinkable."

Nilsson's comments come after UEFA boss Alexander Ceferin called an extraordinary meeting on Friday, where it is expected that a proposal to remove the 2022 Champions League final from St. Petersburg will be formally discussed.

UEFA said that the situation between Russia and Ukraine will be discussed in the high-level meeting amid reports that the Champions League final may be moved.

The comments from the Swedish football hierarchy follow comments from earlier this week in which Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk called for Poland's upcoming game in Moscow to be moved to a neutral venue.

"We will try to play this match on a neutral field. If [the initiative] is not approved, we will think about what to do. I believe that in such a situation, Polish athletes should not go to Russia, but this is my personal opinion," Bortniczuk told Polish radio.

"I believe that the sports world should in no way consent to the practices of Vladimir Putin," he said.

The Polish FA added in a statement: "Due to the tense political situation in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as well as the possible outbreak of an armed conflict, the Polish Football Association turned to FIFA with a request to urgently clarify issues related to the organization of the match against Russia in Moscow."

However, the Russian Football Union dismissed the calls from its Polish counterparts on Tuesday.

"In accordance with the calendar approved by UEFA, the Russian Football Union continues to prepare for the match with Poland on March 24 at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow," it said.