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Wales waiting for clarity on World Cup play-offs following Ukraine request

Wales v Belarus – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Wales’ World Cup play-off against Austria will be delayed should FIFA postpone Scotland’s clash with Ukraine, Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney has suggested.

FIFA confirmed on Thursday that Ukraine have requested a postponement of their play-off semi-final in Glasgow on March 24 following Russia’s invasion of their country.

Ukraine or Scotland are due to visit the winners of the Wales-Austria game on March 29 to determine a place at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Noel Mooney File Photo

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney says it is possible the country’s World Cup play-off against Austria could be moved to June (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We are planning to play against Austria on March 24 at the Cardiff City Stadium,” Mooney told BBC Radio Wales.

“I spoke to Rob Page (Wales manager) yesterday and we are all set for that.

“But then news came through about Ukraine requesting postponement of the match to June.”

Football has been suspended in Ukraine and it is now expected that FIFA will grant the request for the play-off at Hampden Park to be called off.

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Asked about the likelihood of Wales’ game being delayed to June should the Scotland-Ukraine semi-final be played then, Mooney replied: “Until we get official clarification of that, you can surmise it.

“We can surmise that, but that’s not what we have at the moment. We know Ukraine have asked for a postponement until June, but these things change quite quickly.

“I have spoken to my Ukrainian counterpart and will speak to him again.

“We’ll definitely make the right decision for football and for our friends in Ukraine, and at the same time balance it against the fact we’d like to qualify for our first World Cup since 1958.”

Wales v Austria – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium

Wales are scheduled to play Austria in a World Cup play-off on March 24 (David Davies/PA)

Mooney and FAW president Steve Williams are in Glasgow this weekend for a meeting with Scottish Football Association officials that has been arranged for some time.

But Mooney said: “I’m sure these matches in March will be discussed at the dinner table.

“But we’ve written to FIFA and to UEFA because that’s our confederation.

“We wrote to the other associations involved – Scotland, Austria and of course Ukraine – to say we should meet as soon as possible early next week to discuss how this would work as we’ve got a plethora of Nations League games in June.

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“There will be lots of dialogue over the weekend and we’ll make a decision next week at the latest I would say.

“Then our fans can look forward to either March or June to play our World Cup play-offs.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to FIFA and UEFA banning the country’s clubs and national teams from international football.

The Polish football federation told the PA news agency on Friday it had written to FIFA to request the suspension of Belarus too for its support of the Russian invasion.

UEFA said on Thursday that Belarusian clubs and national teams would have to play home UEFA competition matches at neutral venues and behind closed doors until further notice, but stopped short of outright suspension.

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