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Russia World Cup game ‘almost unthinkable’, says Sweden FA

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By Martin Graham | 26th Feb 2022

The Swedish Football Association (SvFF) chairman has come out to tell FIFA that a playoff match in Russia is “almost unthinkable” following recent events.

Vladimir Putin, president of the host nation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia, ordered his troops to invade neighbouring Ukraine for political reasons.

As a result, quite a lot of facets of life have been affected both Ukraine and Russia. Football is one of those facets with Ukraine suffering the most consequences as the nation been invaded.

Football clubs and national teams have called for various sanctions on the Russian team and Russian businesses involved in football in solidarity with Ukraine.

One of them is the Swedish FA, whose chairman has come out to let FIFA and UEFA know that their possible matchup against Russia will not hold if Putin continues to invade Ukraine.

Sweden, Czech Republic, Russia and Poland have been drawn in the B bracket for the final playoff games in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022 holding in Qatar later this year.

Sweden will take on Czech Republic on March 24 and the victor in that game will play the victor of the game between Russia and Poland.

A win for Russia will mean that they will host the winner of the matches between Sweden and Czech Republic on March 29, and Sweden has all but pulled out from a potential match against Russia if it is to hold in Russia on March 29.

“It’s a possible scenario … spontaneously around the feelings we have as we wake up this morning are that it is almost unthinkable that we in a few weeks would play a football match in Russia,” Karl-Erik Nilsson, president of the Swedish FA, told Reuters.

“As it looks here and now, today, there is absolutely no desire to play a football match in Russia.

Nilsson was asked about his contacts in Ukraine and Swedish players plying their trade in Ukraine. He noted that he has not been in touch with them yet and stopped short of demanding that the Russians be banned from the Qatar 2022 World Cup entirely.

“I believe that (in these situations) much is called for very quickly – we will need to live and socialise even in the future, and I think we shouldn’t be too quick with solutions,” he explained.

“Instead, we should take our time and see what actions are needed, For the moment we are looking forward to arms being laid down and that peace and freedom come into existence.”

The Swedish football boss also urged FIFA and UEFA to make decisions with Ukrainians at the centre.

“It’s important that the requests come from Ukraine,” Nilsson said.

“At the moment they have a lot more to think about than football, but a future will arrive one day and we mush show solidarity with our football friends around Europe,” he said.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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