Scottish FA in talks with UEFA over World Cup play-off against Ukraine

Scotland v Denmark – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group F – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

The Scottish Football Association is in talks with UEFA over the situation facing Scotland’s World Cup play-off opponents Ukraine.

Ukraine are due to visit Hampden on March 24 in a play-off semi-final but football in the country has been suspended in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

The fate of the game will be on the agenda at a UEFA executive committee meeting on Friday.

An SFA spokesperson told the PA news agency: “The Scottish FA is in ongoing dialogue with UEFA regarding the situation in Ukraine and we will continue to monitor developments.”

Ukraine players and fans at Hampden

Ukraine beat Sweden at Hamden during the Euro 2020 finals (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Football in Ukraine stopped for a winter break on December 13 and was due to resume this weekend but will remain paused.

“Due to the imposition of martial law in Ukraine, the championship of Ukraine has been suspended,” a statement from the Ukraine Premier League read.

Seventeen of the 25 players in Ukraine’s most recent squad played in the country’s domestic league.

The European governing body said president Aleksander Ceferin had called an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee for Friday morning “in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions”.

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UEFA later “strongly condemned” the Russian invasion and added: “We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced (on Friday).”

FIFA also condemned the Russian actions and stated it would continue to monitor the situation, promising updates relating to World Cup qualifiers would be “communicated in due course”.

Ukraine head coach Oleksandr Petrakov delivered a defiant message on behalf of the national team.

Addressing his “Ukrainian brothers”, Petrakov said in a statement on the Ukrainian Association of Football website: “In this difficult time, we must unite, support each other and believe in our army and our state. We are on our Ukrainian land and we have nothing to fear!

“I am 64 years old, I have lived in Kyiv all my life, I am here now, I am not going anywhere and I am ready to help my country with what I can and know how.

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“Sport in such moments recedes into the background: the main thing is life, peace, tranquillity of people. But I believe that after our quick victory we will continue to prepare for the decisive matches of the national team of Ukraine in the play-offs of the World Cup.

“We are the whole national team, all the guys who are always proud to present the Great Nation on the football field! We do not give up, we all think about Ukraine and live in Ukraine!  Glory to Ukraine!”

Scotland’s women’s national team are also due to play Ukraine in their next game, a crucial World Cup qualifier in the eastern European country on April 8.

The situation could also affect Scotland Under-21s’ European qualifier in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on March 29.

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