Lewandowski backs Poland boycott of Russia WC qualifier amid Ukraine crisis
- "We can’t pretend that nothing is happening," Lewandowski said
- Russia were scheduled to host Poland in Moscow on March 24
- "The Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia," Poland FA chief Cezary Kulesza said
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski on Saturday backed Poland’s decision to not play the upcoming World Cup play-off match against Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “we can’t pretend that nothing is happening”.
"It is the right decision!" Lewandowski said in a tweet.
"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."
Russia were scheduled to host Poland in Moscow on March 24, with Ukraine travelling to Scotland the same day, but Polish football association chief Cezary Kulesza said the side “does not intend” to play.
“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,” Kulesza said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, other players of the Polish squad – including Leeds United Midfielder Mateusz Klich and Southampton defender Jan Bednarek – also issued a statement on social media, saying “it is not an easy decision, but there are more important things in life than football”.
The group also highlighted the plight of their teammate Tomasz Kedziora, the Dynamo Kyiv defender who is in the Ukraininan capital.
Sweden are also in the play-offs and are due to face Czech Republic. The winner of that tie could face Russia for a berth in the World Cup finals, due to be held in Qatar in November.
Earlier, FIFA said it would monitor the situation after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic issued a joint statement, appealing for the World Cup play-off matches not to be held in Russia.
Russia has been losing high profile sporting events in the wake of their invasion of Ukraine, with UEFA relocating the Champions League final - which was scheduled to be played at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg - while the FIA cancelled this year’s Russian Grand Prix.