Ukraine lodge request with FIFA to postpone World Cup playoff against Scotland

The Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) has lodged a formal request to FIFA to postpone Ukraine's World Cup playoff semifinal against Scotland on March 24 due to the Russian invasion of the country last week.

Ukraine, who qualified for their Path A playoff by finishing as runners-up to world champions France in Group D of the UEFA qualification section, had been scheduled to face Scotland at Hampden Park, Glasgow, ahead of a potential playoff decider away to Wales or Austria.

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But with large parts of Ukraine now subjected to intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces and many members of the international squad unable to leave the country, the UAF is seeking a postponement of the Scotland game.

Confirming the UAF request, FIFA said they are in "regular contact with UEFA and the Scottish Football Association to find an appropriate solution."

Sources have told ESPN that both FIFA and UEFA have been on standby to help assist Ukraine in attempting to secure the safe evacuation of players if requested, but both organisations have been mindful of the need to be supportive of whatever position the players and UAF choose to take.

Fifteen members of the 23-man squad that played in Ukraine's most recent game -- a World Cup qualifier against Bosnia this past November -- play their club football in Ukraine, and ESPN has been told by sources that almost all Ukrainian players have stayed in the country since the domestic league was suspended last month.

A government mandate has been issued in Ukraine for all males between the age of 18 and 60 to remain in the country, and sources have said that the national team players are determined to respond to that call and not leave their homes and families.

The players have also been unable to train since the outbreak of war, so the prospect of preparing for, and playing against, Scotland later this month has been regarded in recent days by the UAF, UEFA and FIFA as unrealistic.

FIFA is due to consider Ukraine's request to postpone the game, and sources have said that there is a possibility of the game being rescheduled for June -- intercontinental playoffs are scheduled to be played in Qatar on June 13 and 14 -- if the situation in the country can be resolved.