FIFA hands Poland walkover as Russian hopes rest on legal bid
FIFA has confirmed that Poland will be granted a bye in their World Cup qualifying campaign rather than facing Russia later this month, meaning Russian hopes of being given the chance to reach the tournament in Qatar will rest on an appeal lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
FIFA announced the step on Tuesday, stating that Poland had direct passage to play either Sweden or the Czech Republic in the playoff final on March 29, and that Russia will play no further part in qualifying.
“Subsequent to the decision of 28 February 2022 taken jointly with the UEFA Executive Committee to suspend all Russian teams from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice, the Bureau of the FIFA Organising Committee decided that Poland will receive a bye to the final of Path B due to take place on 29 March 2022,” read a FIFA statement.
FIFA suspended all Russian teams from its competitions at the end of last month in the wake of Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine.
That came after Poland refused to play Russia in their World Cup qualifying semifinal set for Moscow on March 24 – a stance mirrored by both Sweden and the Czech Republic, who will await the winners of the match in the playoff final.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) formally submitted its appeal against the FIFA and UEFA suspensions with CAS in Switzerland this week.
Russian sports officials have argued that sweeping sanctions placed on athletes from the country are discriminatory and are the result of politics being unfairly applied to sport.
Russia manager Valeri Karpin has said the team will still hold a seven-day training camp in Moscow in March, in the hope that the suspension will be overturned and the team is granted the chance to attempt to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, which gets underway in November.
Also in its decision on Tuesday, FIFA confirmed that it had granted a request from the Ukrainian Football Association to delay their World Cup playoff semifinal against Scotland which had been scheduled to take place in Glasgow on March 24.
“The match between Scotland and Ukraine, initially scheduled for 24 March 2022, will now be postponed to the existing June window,” read the statement.
“Consequently, the match between the winners of Scotland v. Ukraine and Wales v. Austria will also be postponed to the same window.”