'I refuse to listen to the national anthem of Russia!' - Szczesny makes powerful statement explaining why he won't play for Poland amid Ukraine crisis

Wojciech Szczesny Poland Juventus 2021-22Getty Images

Poland international goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has issued a powerful and "heartbreaking" statement regarding the conflict in Ukraine, insisting that he will not play against Russia following their invasion of their Eastern European neighbours.

Russia are due to face Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off on March 24, although the Polish Football Association president, Cezary Kulesza, has confirmed that they "do not intend" to take part in the fixture due to the situation in Ukraine.

And in an emotional message posted on his Instagram page, Szczesny explained he would not be willing to play against Russia, calling on FIFA and UEFA to take action.

What's been said?

Szczesny wrote on Instagram: "My wife was born in Ukraine, there is Ukrainian blood running through the veins of my son, part of our family is still in Ukraine, a lot of my workers are Ukrainian and they’re all great people.

"Seeing the suffering on their faces and fear for their country makes me realise I can’t stand still and pretend that nothing has happened.

"The moment [Vladimir] Putin decided to invade Ukraine he declared war not only on Ukraine but also on all the values Europe stands for. Liberty, Independence but, most of all, Peace.

"On March 26 we were supposed to play against Russia in a play-off match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. And although my heart breaks while writing this, my conscience will not let me play.

"Representing your country is the biggest honour in a footballer's career but it's still a choice.

"I refuse to play against players who choose to represent the values and principles of Russia!

"I refuse to stand on the pitch, wearing the colours of my country and listen to the national anthem of Russia!

"I refuse to take part in a sporting event that legitimises the actions of the Russian government.

"I know my impact may only be symbolic but I call on FIFA and UEFA to take action and hold the Russian Federation accountable for their actions."

Have any other Polish players spoken out?

Bayern Munich striker and Poland captain Robert Lewandowski backed his nation's decision to not play in the fixture against Russia, writing on social media: "It is the right decision!

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"I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues. Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening."

Premier League players, including Mateusz Klich, Matty Cash and Jan Bednarek, meanwhile, posted a joint statement on social media insisting that there are "more important things in life", supporting the decision not to play on March 26.

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