Polish team manager and media officer Jakub Kwiatkowski has claimed the country’s players don’t need to be persuaded to boycott their World Cup qualifier against Russia.
The Russians were due to host the Eagles in Path B of the UEFA play-offs on March 24, with the winners facing either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place in Qatar later this year.
But, before FIFA and UEFA took action to ban the Eastern European nation from their competitions, Poland revealed they would not face Russia given their invasion from Ukraine.
And Kwiatkowski, who helped his country’s players through tough talks, praised them for the decisive action amid procrastination from football’s governing bodies.
“It was the decision of all the players. We had no doubts or had to persuade anyone [about boycotting the match against Russia]he told Sam Matterface of talkSPORT.
“We contacted FIFA before [the invasion], and sent a letter, and expressed deep concern, and asked them for an urgent position on the play-off. We have had no response from FIFA on the letter.
“Then on Thursday, when the invasion started, the circumstances changed dramatically and we made a statement to FIFA telling them we weren’t going to play in Russia.”
Poland are currently doing all they can to help Ukrainians fleeing the invasion and Kwiatkowski revealed that he and the Polish government have been working quickly to help the national team player and Tomasz Kedziora, who plays his football for the Dynamo Kyiv, to get to safety, with others.
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“We showed our support for the Ukrainians, and for us that was the most important thing, especially because one of our players, Tomasz Kedziora, is a Dynamo Kyiv player,” he said.
“He was in Kyiv when the invasion started and witnessed the shelling, and it was a truly tragic experience.
“We asked the government for the transport of the player, his wife is Ukrainian and the Polish conciliator from Lviv organized the transport. We have also managed to help other people in football who have asked us for help.
“We helped him to come back to Poland, thanks to the Polish government and he arrived in the country last Sunday.”
While the tragic events in Ukraine affected everyone, Kwiatkowski said the tragedy had an even greater effect on some members of the Polish squad, hence their decision to take strong action.
“Wojciech Szczesny, our goalkeeper, his wife is Ukrainian, it means that in the veins of his son, there is Ukrainian blood”, he added.
“In such circumstances, it’s hard to imagine that we could stand on the pitch and play against a team that represents invaders.”
The decision to end the clash was welcomed by Poland’s captain and top scorer Robert Lewandowski, who said on Twitter: “I can’t imagine playing a game with the Russian national team in a situation where armed aggression in Ukraine continues.”
The Swedish and Czech football associations also later said they would not play against Russia due to the invasion.
But, since then, FIFA has confirmed the suspension of Russian national teams from international football and all club teams from FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice.