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When are Ukraine and Russia playoff games for World Cup?

The 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar will take much of the attention come November, but the UEFA playoffs were thrown into doubt with Putin's invasion.

When is Ukraine and Russia playoff games for World Cup?
AFP7 vía Europa Press

The March international break was mean to be an exciting one for the football stars representing both the Ukraine and the Russian national teams. Both had made it to the European playoffs, meaning just two games separated them from a place in November's World Cup finals in Qatar. Then Vladimir Putin decided to unlawfully invade his neighbouring country.

Russia invasion changes World Cup plans

Ukraine's Football Association had asked FIFA to postpone the qualifier against Scotland following Russia's brutal invasion, a request that was granted, with the match now scheduled to take place in June.

The winners of that game at Hampden Park in Glasgow will take on Austria or Wales, who meet in their playoff semi-final as planned on Thursday 24 March.

Russia, who have been suspended from international soccer by UEFA and FIFA, were scheduled to host Poland in a qualifying playoff on that same day, but FIFA granted Poland a bye to the next round, where they will play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a spot at the World Cup.

To fill the gap in their schedules, Scotland and Poland will instead face each other at Hampden next Thursday in a friendly. For every ticket sold, 10 pounds ($13) will be donated to UNICEF United Kingdom's emergency appeal for Ukraine, and supporters will have the opportunity to make an additional donation if they wish during the ticket purchase process.

"As a father, the images of children in Ukraine has been heartbreaking to watch," Scotland captain Andrew Robertson said in a statement. "When we were informed that the match against Ukraine would be postponed then working in partnership with Robert (Lewandowski) and the Polish squad to do our bit to help the situation was a no-brainer.

"We send our love and prayers to our fellow participants across Ukraine's football community and hope that the money raised by this match will help the tremendous efforts already made by UNICEF in Ukraine and in helping the refugee situation."

Ukraine, who began playing as an independent nation in 1992, last qualified for the World Cup finals in 2006 when they reached the quarter-finals. The country reached the last eight in the Euro 2020 tournament held last year.