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QATAR WORLD CUP

World Cup: Lewandowski backs Poland boycott of Russia qualifier

Robert Lewandowski has echoed calls to not play Poland's Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier against Russia next month amid war with Ukraine.

Update:
World Cup: Lewandowski backs Poland boycott of Russia qualifier
Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Poland captain Robert Lewandowski has backed the decision of the Polish football association to refuse to play their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier against Russia next month following developments in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, following weeks of rising political tensions in the region. The conflict escalated further on Friday, with the fighting reaching the capital city of Kyiv.

Russia had been set to host Poland in March, but on Friday, UEFA confirmed any international matches due to be held in Russia or Ukraine would have to be moved to a neutral venue, as well as confirming St Petersburg had been stripped of holding this season's Champions League final, which will now be played in Paris.

The winner of the tie between Poland and Russia would have been due to play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place in Qatar, but on Thursday, the Polish, Swedish and Czech FAs requested that Russia be barred from hosting any upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

On Saturday, the president of the Polish FA, Cezary Kulesza, took to Twitter to confirm they will refuse to play March's qualifier as part of the pair's final pathway to this year's tournament.

"No more words, time to act!" Kulesza posted on Twitter. "Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine, the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia. This is the only right decision. We are in talks with Sweden and Czech federations to present a common position to FIFA."

Lewandowki on Poland boycott: "It is the right decision"

Bayern Munich star Lewandowski retweeted the post, saying: "It is the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues.

"Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening."

Football's world governing body FIFA said in a statement that it: "Condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts. Violence is never a solution and FIFA calls on all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue.

"FIFA also continues to express its solidarity to the people affected by this conflict.

"Regarding football matters in both Ukraine and Russia, FIFA will continue to monitor the situation and updates in relation to the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers will be communicated in due course."

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