Russia Ukraine conflict

Poland refuses to play Russia in World Cup qualifier, cites Ukraine

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Poland is refusing to play its World Cup qualifier against Russia next month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Polish soccer federation president said Saturday.

Cezary Kulesza made the announcement on Twitter and indicated Poland was in talks with other federations to present a unified position to FIFA.

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“No more words, time to act!” Kulesza wrote, saying the move was prompted by the “escalation of the aggression.”

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, the nation’s all-time leading scorer, immediately responded to say it’s the “right decision!”

“I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” the Bayern Munich star said on Twitter. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”

Previously, Poland had only said it didn’t want to play the qualifying playoff semifinal in Moscow on March 24.

The winner plays Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place at the Qatar World Cup.

Russian troops pressed toward Ukraine’s capital Saturday, after a night of explosions and street fighting that sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter underground.

It was not immediately clear how far Russian troops had advanced. Ukrainian officials reported some success in fending off assaults, but fighting persisted near the capital.

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