Scotland v Ukraine World Cup play-off: What does Russian invasion mean for fixture? Could Scotland receive a bye?

Scotland's World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden Park next month has been thrown into serious doubt following the Russian invasion.

The Ukraine Premier League, where most of their national team are based, has been suspended for at least 30 days after a state of martial law was declared in the country.

The closure of Ukranian airspace is also likely to prevent any footballers and team officials based in the country from travelling to take part in the fixture in Glasgow on March 24.

Uefa has called an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the crisis on Friday, which could also see Russia stripped from hosting the Champions League final, which is due to take place in St Petersburg on May 28.

Scotland are due to host Ukraine at Hampden in the World Cup play-off semi-final on March 24, but the Russian invasion has thrown the fixture into doubt. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)


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But what options do the governing body have with regards Scotland v Ukraine?

Could Scotland v Ukraine be postponed?

With the World Cup play-off finals due to take place just five days later on March 29, and no certainty over how long the war will last, there appears little scope for postponing and rescheduling the tie.

Could Scotland receive a bye?


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There is the real prospect of Scotland receiving a bye into the final if Ukraine are unable to fulfil the match.

Given the fixture is just one month away, this could be the simplest solution for Uefa, which would see Scotland progress to face either Wales or Austria for a place in Qatar 2022 without kicking a ball.

Which nations could replace Ukraine at Hampden?

There is a secondary option that could see another nation replace Ukraine as Scotland's semi-final opponents, just as Denmark stepped in as late replacements for war-torn Yugoslavia at Euro 1992 before going on to win the tournament.


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Hungary would be a possible candidate as the only Nations League B group winner not to qualify for the play-offs.

Finland may also have a case, having finished third behind Ukraine in Group D during World Cup qualification.

Could Scotland v Ukraine still go ahead?

There is still the possibility of the match going ahead if Ukraine remain willing to compete, and are able to convince Uefa they would be capable of putting together a team of players and officials based outwith their domestic league, if required.


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Ukraine have a number of footballers and coaches based in different countries that could be cobbled together but it seems unlikely that Uefa would accept such a scenario without the involvement of the Ukrainian Association of Football.

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