Poland will not play their World Cup play-off against Russia next month because of the invasion of Ukraine, the president of Poland’s Football Association, Cezary Kulesza, said on Saturday, a decision backed up by the team’s players, including their star forward, Robert Lewandowski.
Kulesza said the association was in talks with its Swedish and Czech counterparts regarding the matches. The winners of the match between Sweden and the Czech Republic were supposed to play the victors of the Russia v Poland game to determine who would qualify for the World Cup later this year.
“No more words, time to act!” Kulesza tweeted. “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. “This is the only right decision. We are in talks with Swedish and Czech association to bring forward a joint statement to Fifa.
Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski quickly endorsed Kulesza’s words, tweeting: “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.”
In a separate statement, the Polish team said: “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 Kedziora, who is still in Kiev with his family.”
Kedziora, 27, is a defender for Dynamo Kyiv. The statement was signed with the hashtags #SolidarnizUkraina (In solidarity with Ukraine) and #NoWar Please.