FIFA postpones Ukraine's World Cup qualification playoff against Scotland

The play-off semifinal was due to be played at Hampden Park on March 24, with the winner going on to face Austria or Wales in Cardiff for a place in this year's World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA World Cup

Scotland's World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine, scheduled for March 24, has been postponed.   -  Getty Images

FIFA has postponed Ukraine's World Cup qualification playoff match against Scotland on March 24, world football's governing body said in a statement on Tuesday.

The winner of the game at Hampden Park in Glasgow will take on Austria or Wales for a place in November's World Cup finals in Qatar. Ukraine's Football Association had asked FIFA to postpone the qualifier following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Following consultation with UEFA and the four participating member associations in Path A of the European qualifying play-offs, it was unanimously agreed in the spirit of solidarity to accept," FIFA said in a statement.

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"The match between Scotland and Ukraine ... will now be postponed to the existing June window, and consequently, the match between the winners of Scotland v Ukraine and Wales v Austria will also be postponed.

"The match between Wales and Austria (March 24) will remain as scheduled ... owing to the need to limit the disruption to the competitive matches already scheduled for the June window," it added.

Russia, which has been suspended from international football by UEFA and FIFA, was scheduled to host Poland in a qualifying playoff match on March 24.

FIFA added that Poland would receive a bye to the next round, and play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a spot at the World Cup, a decision that was sharply criticised by the Swedish Football Association (SvFF).

"FIFA finally made the right decision when it comes to Russia but this decision (to give Poland a bye) is unfortunately completely (crazy) from a sporting perspective," Sweden boss Janne Andersson said in a statement.

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SvFF general secretary Hakan Sjoestrand said that he understood the difficulties for FIFA but the Swedes had hoped that Poland would get a new opponent so that the circumstances would be the same for all teams.

The Russian Football Union has appealed against its suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which confirmed on Tuesday it had registered the case. The draw for the World Cup finals is to be held in Doha on April 1.

Ukraine began playing as an independent nation in 1992 and last qualified for the World Cup finals in 2006, reaching the quarterfinal. The country made the last eight at Euro 2020 which was held last year.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

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