The Football Association of the Czech Republic is "very likely" to refuse to play Russia, according to its President ©Getty Images

The Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) is has followed the lead of Poland and Sweden by refusing to play Russia in a FIFA World Cup playoff.

Following an FAČR Executive Committee meeting and discussions with players, it has been agreed that the Czech national team will not play Russia, "not even on the neutral venue"

The FAČR had already joined the Polish Football Association (PZPN) and Swedish Football Association (SvFF) in telling FIFA and UEFA it was not prepared to play the qualifiers in Russia as was scheduled.

Russia and Poland are due to meet next month, with Sweden facing the Czechs in the same country, and the two winners would then face off for a place at Qatar 2022.

Yesterday, in light of Russia invading Ukraine, the PZPN and SvFF both told FIFA their men's teams will refuse to play Russia at any venue, and forfeit the games should Russia not be kicked out of qualifying.

FAČR President Petr Fousek insisted such a policy could not be adopted until the FAČR Executive Committee had met, but suggested the FAČR was "very likely" to follow.

Now it has.

Some have criticised the speed of the FAČR response, including Ballon d'Or winner and former national team player Pavel Nedvěd.

"I expect my country to do the same," Nedvěd said on Italian television yesterday when asked about the stance of Poland and Sweden.

"I don't understand what they're waiting for."

Polish captain Robert Lewandowski said it was the
Polish captain Robert Lewandowski said it was the "right decision" to refuse to play Russia ©Getty Images

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday (February 24) following months of tension.

Hundreds have been killed including at least 198 Ukrainian citizens, according to the Government's most recent update, and many thousands more displaced.

There is fighting on the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, while an oil depot near Kyiv was bombed overnight.

Much of the international community has condemned the invasion and Russia has been met with sporting sanctions, including having the UEFA Champions League final moved from the country to France.

The stances of the FAČR, SvFF and PZPN put pressure on FIFA to take decisive action.

FIFA staged the its last men's World Cup in Russia in 2018, and President Gianni Infantino was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.

Infantino refused to answer questions on whether he would keep the honour following a meeting of the FIFA Council on Thursday.

The Russian Football Union has suggested Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic should be seem to be boycotting the matches, giving Russia a free path to World Cup qualification.

The International Olympic Committee has called on Russia and Belarus - which is aiding in the invasion - to be stripped of all remaining sporting events.

It also wants the countries' flags banned from all sport.

The National Olympic Committees of Denmark and Norway have called for all Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned outright in light of the invasion.