Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Poland's Lewandowski will carry a blue-yellow armband in support of Ukraine to the World Cup. CBC Sports

Robert Lewandowski extended his support for Ukraine on Tuesday when the Poland captain pledged to take an armband in the colors of the country’s blue-yellow flag at the World Cup in November.

Lewandowski opposed a Russian military invasion of Ukraine for the first time within days, beginning in February. He called on Poland to boycott Russia in the World Cup qualifying game.

Twice FIFA World Player of the Year received his gift from Ukraine great Andrey Shevchenko at Poland’s national stadium in Warsaw.

“Thanks Andrey. Glad to meet you!” Lewandowski wrote on his Instagram account. “It will be an honor for me to carry this captain’s armband in the colors of Ukraine to the World Cup.”

The star forward’s public stance helped ensure that Poland did not play Russia in the World Cup qualification playoff semi-finals to be held in Warsaw on March 24.

“We can’t pretend that nothing is happening,” Levandowski said two days before FIFA and UEFA banned Russian teams from international competitions, effectively removing Russia from the World Cup.

Ukrainian ‘home’ games in Poland

After Poland advanced through the playoffs to the World Cup in Qatar, Ukraine lost to Wales in a playoff final postponed until June to help prepare the team amid a war that closed home football.

Poland will play Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia in Group C from November 20-December. 18 tournaments.

Football relations between Poland and Ukraine, which co-hosted the 2012 European Championship, have seen Ukrainian national and club teams play “home” games in international competitions in Polish stadiums this season.

Ukraine will complete its UEFA Nations League schedule in Poland next week, hosting Scotland in Krakow.

2004 Ballon d’Or winner Shevchenko, a standout striker with AC Milan, coached the Ukraine team when it reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals last year.

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