Ian Maxwell admits ‘uncomfortable’ Scotland vs Ukraine date talks make him feel like a fraud


SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell insists he feels like a FRAUD when talking about a rearranged date for Scotland’s World Cup play-off showdown against Ukraine.

The Qatar 2022 semi-final at Hampden was due to take place on Thursday but has been replaced with a fundraising friendly against Poland to help their war-torn rivals.

FIFA expect to rearrange the game for June with the winner due to take on Austria or Wales for a place at the first-ever winter World Cup.

That would mean a hectic summer schedule with Scotland also due to play four Nations League fixtures.

Steve Clarke stated he would prefer to avoid such a scenario but Maxwell said it’s “uncomfortable” talking about it given events in that part of the world.

He said: “We have channeled that all through UEFA. The last things the Ukrainians need is more complications in terms of communication.

“I was on one call he has been on, but it has been done through UEFA. It is actually really uncomfortable being on a call and talking about football given what is going on over there.

“You feel like a bit of a fraud and it doesn’t feel right to be concentrating too much on the games because first and foremost you want the conflict to stop and you want everything that’s happening over there to stop and things to return to some sort of normality, whatever that looks like over there.

“It’s a really delicate one. We want to play Ukraine, we want to play the winner of the Wales-Austria one in the final, and we want to qualify for Qatar. That’s the route that was laid out, that’s what we want to achieve, and we will do everything we can to make sure that’s a possibility.

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“It’s all hypothetical at the moment and it’s probably inappropriate to go into too much detail because we just don’t know. It’s very much a case of seeing what happens with the conflict over the coming weeks and taking things from there.”

Meanwhile, Maxwell says the ticket sales have been ‘encouraging’ for Scotland’s upcoming fundraising friendly.

Maxwell confirmed last week that £10 from each ticket sold will go to UNICEF’s humanitarian response. This will help provide clean water, food and health supplies as well as ensure child protection services continue, both within Ukraine and for those in need who have fled to neighboring countries.

Now he hopes the Tartan Army can pack out the national stadium as they look to do their bit to help the war-torn country.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates making it 1-0 at Hampden
Poland’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates making it 1-0 at Hampden

“We have sold about 33,000 tickets which includes more than 4,500 Polish fans who bought tickets in 24 hours over the weekend,” Maxwell said.

“Unusually, because of the short amount of time before the match, we are selling tickets directly to Polish fans. That would normally go through their association but we are dealing with that and they have flown out the door.

“It’s a good number and we would like to get into the 40s and obviously the more spectators that turn up, the more money we can raise for UNICEF and for everybody in Ukraine, so it’s important we try and do that. We are delighted with the figures so far.

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Although Maxwell does acknowledge that not everyone can make midweek games he has urged anyone who can to snap up a ticket in support of a very worthy cause.

He added: “Thursday night games are generally difficult, it’s a school night and we have a lot of supporters who come from all over the country and Thursday night makes that more of a challenge.

“We were aware when we announced it that we might actually attract spectators that maybe wouldn’t necessarily come to a national team match but because of the fundraising element they would want to show their support. We just want to get as many in the stadium as we can.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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