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Swedish FA chief say it's 'almost unthinkable' to have World Cup playoff match in Russia

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Swedish FA chief insists it’s ‘almost UNTHINKABLE’ that they could face a World Cup play-off match in Russia next month, saying there’s ‘no desire to play football’ in the country after the invasion of Ukraine

  • Sweden face Czech Republic and Russia meet Poland in the World Cup play-offs
  • Should both win, they could meet in Russia with a place in Qatar on the line
  • Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Eastern European neighbours Ukraine
  • The Swedish FA boss says there is ‘no desire to play football’ in Russia    


A 2022 World Cup play-off match in Russia is ‘almost unthinkable’ at the moment, the chairman of the Swedish Football Association has said following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

Sweden are due to face the Czech Republic in a World Cup play-off Path B match on March 24, with the victor meeting the winner of the other group game between Poland and Russia.

Wins for Sweden and Russia would mean the two sides meeting in Russia on March 29, with a place at the Qatar World Cup at stake.

Sweden could face Russia in a World Cup play-off if both nations win their next games

Sweden could face Russia in a World Cup play-off if both nations win their next games

Swedish FA chief Karl-Erik Nilsson (left) says it's'almost unthinkable' to play a game in Russia

Swedish FA chief Karl-Erik Nilsson (left) says it’s ‘almost unthinkable’ to play a game in Russia

Karl-Erik Nilsson said: ‘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.’

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

Nilsson said that he had not been in touch with his contacts in Ukraine following the overnight attacks.

Russia could host Sweden on March 29 should they beat Poland and the Swedish side prevail against the Czech Republic

Russia could host Sweden on March 29 should they beat Poland and the Swedish side prevail against the Czech Republic

‘Our thoughts go to our friends in Ukraine over the situation they woke up to today, it’s awful. Football should be seen as something of less importance in the middle of this inferno,’ he said.

The 64-year-old former referee stopped short of demanding that the Russians be kicked out of the 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.

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine after Vladimir Putin (pictured) sent troops into their Eastern European neighbours on Thursday

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine after Vladimir Putin (pictured) sent troops into their Eastern European neighbours on Thursday 

‘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 said that the desires of the Ukrainians themselves should guide football’s response.

‘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.’

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