Ukraine to play World Cup qualifier in June after delay

Ukrainians gather for "Mariupol is Ukraine" in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Russian lawmakers on Tuesday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside the country — a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine.
Associated Press/Sergei Grits

FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, announced on Thursday that the Ukrainian national team will play in a series of World Cup qualifying matches after a delay due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“Following consultation with [the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)] and the member associations concerned, FIFA can confirm the dates for the two remaining matches of the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 play-off path involving Ukraine,” the soccer body said in a statement

FIFA said that Ukraine will compete against Scotland in the first of two remaining European playoff qualifiers on June 1. If Ukraine defeats Scotland, it will then face Wales on June 5 in the playoff final for the last European spot in the World Cup. 

According to The Washington Post, Ukraine will join Group B of the World Cup if the team wins the two playoff matches. Group B includes the U.S., Iran and England. 

“The rescheduled fixtures have resulted in the UEFA Nations League calendar being adjusted for some of the games in order to accommodate the postponed play-off matches,” FIFA said in a statement.

“FIFA would like to thank all of the parties involved for the strong spirit of solidarity and cooperation that has led to this unanimous decision.”

This comes after FIFA imposed an indefinite ban on Russia’s national team participating in all competitions last month, including the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, after the country launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Several Ukrainian soccer stars, such as Ruslan Malinovskyi and Andriy Yarmolenko, have used their platforms to share anti-war messages about the ongoing invasion. 

The invasion, which began on February 24, has killed thousands on both sides and led more than 4.7 million refugees to flee Ukraine due to ongoing fighting, according to United Nations data.

Tags FIFA FIFA FIFA Qatar Russia-Ukraine conflict Russia-Ukraine conflict soccer soccer Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine invasion World Cup
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