Wales backed handing World Cup spot to Ukraine
Football Association of Wales Chief executive Noel Mooney has revealed the FAW backed proposals that would have guaranteed Ukraine a place in the 2022 World Cup finals.
The move was discussed after the World Cup play-off game between Scotland and Ukraine scheduled for 24 March was postponed for three months following the Russian invasion.
Wales’play-off semi-final against Austria will take place as planned in Cardiff the same night.
The winners from each semi-final were set to meet on 29 March with a place in the finals up for grabs.
Mooney confirmed the possibility of a bye for Ukraine was discussed when FIFA held talks with the four national associations over rescheduling the play-offs but the suggestion was ruled out due to the logistics of adding an extra team to the finals, which run from 21 November to 18 December 2022 in Qatar .
Mooney told the PA news agency: “It was a Welsh perspective that if it could be accommodated it could be a really good thing to do.
“It’s something as a human being you would say, ‘OK if they’re not ready to play in June should they be given a bye’.
“There was some loose discussion around it, saying could you get an extra space for Ukraine because of the horrendous time they are going through.
“But it would mean an extra team in the World Cup as there’s three teams left – ourselves, Scotland and Austria – and it’s a big thing for us to qualify for the World Cup.
“From our perspective we’d have been very comfortable with giving Ukraine a bye with the other three fighting it out amongst ourselves (for one place).
“But there’s the integrity of the competition, and with the tournament (lasting) only 28 days to try and fit that sort of thing in would be very difficult. The feeling was that a 28-day tournament wouldn’t facilitate it.”
“It’s difficult because if we do insert a match, something has to give. We can’t have players playing every two days.
“There are options floating around and we hope to have decision in the next week or two.”
Fifa and Uefa confirmed the suspension of all Russian teams from international football competition following the invasion of Ukraine last month.
The suspension resulted in the of the postponement of the play-off semi-final between Russia and Poland.
Poland received a bye as a consequence and will now face off against the winner of the semi-final between Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Wales secured their place in the play-offs after finishing second in group Group E and lost only one qualifier – away to the eventual group winners Belgium.
Wales’ only previous appearance at the World Cup finals was in 1958, when they reached the quarter-finals in Sweden.
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