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Czechs refuse to play Russia in 2022 World Cup play-offs: FA

Prague (AFP) – The Czech Football Association said Sunday the national team would not play Russia in a potential 2022 World Cup play-off in March following the invasion of Ukraine.

“The Czech national team will in no case play a potential game against Russia in the World Cup play-offs,” the Czech FA said in a statement, following the same decision by Sweden and Poland.

The Czechs would have to beat Sweden away and Russia would have to beat Poland to set up a clash between the two countries on March 29.

Sweden and Poland said they would not play Russia on Saturday.

The Czechs are due to play Sweden in the first round of the play-offs in Stockholm on March 24, while Russia were due to host Poland in Moscow on the same day.

The Polish, Swedish and Czech federations had issued a statement on Thursday — the day the invasion began — demanding FIFA play the matches away from Russia.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday they hoped the “situation (the conflict between Ukraine and Russia) will be resolved” by the time the matches are played.

In a separate development, the Swedish government said they were going to try and persuade the other 27 European Union states to impose a blanket sporting ban on Russia for “as long as the invasion of Ukraine lasts”.

The Swedes are proposing a boycott of all competitions being hosted in Russia and that no Russian athlete be allowed to compete in the European Union.

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