FIFA Confirm Rescheduling of Scotland v Ukraine Playoff Match
On Thursday, March 3rd, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the unsettling war that has broken out, as a result, the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF), with the backing of their playoff opponent Scotland, requested FIFA postpone their upcoming 2022 World Cup qualification playoff match on March 24th. In response to the request, FIFA, in consultation with UEFA and the member associations affected by the decision (Austria, Scotland, Ukraine and Wales), has now confirmed that the semi-final playoff between Ukraine and Scotland will be rescheduled for a date in June this year.
Football’s world governing body released a statement saying that they “unanimously agreed in the spirit of solidarity to accept this request”.
The statement agreeing to the delayed playoff also confirmed that Poland, who were due to play Russia in their semi-final playoff match, will receive a bye* to the final. It follows FIFA and UEFA’s suspension of Russian teams, on February 28th, from all international competitions until further notice. The statement read, “the Bureau of the FIFA Organising Committee decided that Poland will receive a bye to the final of Path B due to take place on March 29th, 2022, in which they will face the winners of the match between Sweden and the Czech Republic”.
European 2022 World Cup Playoffs
The main action for the European 2022 World Cup qualifiers was concluded in November 2021. The top ten teams from the qualification competition won direct tickets to the 2022 FIFA World Cup this coming November. The ten runners-up, plus two of the highest-ranked Nations League 2020/21 squads (Austria and the Czech Republic), now face a playoff tournament for one of three additional slots in Qatar (Europe was awarded 13 slots at the 2022 event).
The twelve remaining teams have been drawn into three playoff paths (A, B and C). Each playoff path consists of four teams, each playing a semi-final match against one of their path opponents. The two winners in each group will go on to play in a final. The final winners for Paths A, B and C will head to the 2022 World Cup. The playoff competition is scheduled for March 24th (semi-finals) and 29th (finals).
Ukraine was due to compete in Path A alongside Scotland, Wales and Austria.
Poland was due to play in Path B with opponents Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Playoff Tournament Changes
While the Path A semi-final between Scotland and Ukraine has been delayed until the summer, the Wales and Austria semi-final will go ahead as planned to limit disruption on the matches already scheduled for the June window, namely the UEFA Nations League games. As such, only the postponed semi-final and the final between the winners of the Scotland v Ukraine and the Wales v Austria games will need to be rescheduled during an already congested June window.
FIFA has said that alternative dates for the fixtures are being explored, though exact dates have yet to be agreed. The dates of the rescheduled matches will be announced in due course, as will the changes to the international match calendar.
In Path B, Poland will now face either Sweden or the Czech Republic in the final on March 29th.
In lieu of their semi-final bouts, Poland and Scotland are now discussing the possibility of playing one another in a friendly on March 24th.