Ukraine request to postpone World Cup play-off game against Scotland due to Russian invasion; tie had been due to be played at Hampden Park on March 24; Wales FA chief reveals Ukraine want game played in June, and that Wales' fixture against Austria could also be delayed
Friday 4 March 2022 10:08, UK
Ukraine have asked FIFA and UEFA to postpone their upcoming World Cup play-off game with Scotland until June.
The play-off semi-final 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.
But now Ukraine have asked both international tournament bodies to postpone the fixture, owing to the ongoing invasion of the country by the Russian military.
Russia had been due to face Poland in their semi-final, but have been thrown out of the tournament by FIFA as a sanction for the invasion.
A FIFA statement said: "FIFA can confirm it has received a request from the Ukrainian Association of Football today to postpone their matches scheduled for March.
"FIFA remains in regular contact with UEFA and the Scottish Football Association to find an appropriate solution.
"FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to everybody affected by what is happening in Ukraine. A further update will be provided in due course."
Speaking on Friday, Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Noel Mooney revealed Ukraine had suggested June as a potential date for their fixture with Scotland, adding that Wales' play-off against Austria could also be delayed should FIFA agree to Ukraine's request.
Mooney told BBC Radio Wales: "We are planning to play against Austria on March 24 at the Cardiff City Stadium. I spoke to Rob Page yesterday and we are all set for that.
"But then news came through about Ukraine requesting postponement of the match to June."
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."
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.
"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."
Prior to Ukraine's request, Scotland international Stuart Armstrong spoke about the emotion of playing in the play-off semi-final but admitted his job was to win the game.
The 29-year-old Southampton midfielder told Sky Sports News: "It's a unique situation, heavily emotionally-fuelled of course, very difficult but also I'd like to stress it's a football game. People especially the players will be focused on the football when the game kicks off."
Armstrong, who was expected to be included in Steve Clarke's squad for the match, added: "It's a difficult situation for everyone involved. My thoughts go out to the people in Ukraine at the moment. Football takes a back seat."
Former Chelsea and AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko said football "doesn't exist" for him amid the current invasion while speaking to Sky Sports News.
Shevchenko's family have refused to leave Ukraine and the 45-year-old has remained in London during the conflict to help lead the appeal to get humanitarian aid to his country.
"Football doesn't exist for me any more," Shevchenko said.
"I don't think about it. It's not the time for that. I'm not watching anything, any sport, anything.
"All my concentration, when I wake up, I think about how I can help my country, what I can do. I've started to call my parents, my friends, get updates on what's going on in Ukraine.
"For me, this is my field, this is my concentration now."