Soccer associations in Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden have stated they will refuse to play in the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches in Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine.
“Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the Football Associations of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic express their firm position that the playoff matches to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for 24 and 29 March 2022, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the joint-statement reads.
The federations have called for UEFA and FIFA to find “alternative solutions” for locations of these upcoming soccer matches.
Additionally, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is set to move the 2022 Champions League final out of St. Petersburg, Russia, according to reports from ESPN and the Associated Press. The move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
A meeting of the UEFA executive committee will be held on Friday to discuss the geopolitical crisis and when officials are set to confirm taking the prominent match game out of Russia.
UEFA did publicly rebuke Russia and said it was dealing with the “situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency” while confirming the Friday meeting.
“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” the governing body said in a statement.
“We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.”
UEFA’s leadership had held off making a call on the Champions League final venue until Russia on Thursday started to target cities and military bases in Ukraine with airstrikes and shelling as tanks and troops rolled across the border.
U.S. President Joe Biden, along with several other world leaders, have condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Thursday morning Biden met with leaders of G7 to discuss “devastating packages of sanctions” to hold Russia accountable for the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.