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Team 33 rides again: Wales chief Mooney backed Ukraine World Cup bye

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney was in favour of Ukraine receiving a by...

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney was in favour of Ukraine receiving a bye to this year's World Cup finals.

Wales and Ukraine are both in Path A of the European playoffs for the tournament in Qatar, and could still meet for a place in the finals.

Ukraine's playoff semi-final with Scotland has been postponed until June at the earliest, but Wales' game with Austria will go ahead in Cardiff on March 24. The resultant final must also wait until the summer, meaning the April 1 draw for the finals will contain at least one major vacancy.

In discussions with FIFA about the best method to proceed, Mooney seemingly took inspiration from former FAI chief executive John Delaney.

Mooney - an ex-interim lead of the FAI - told PA that he would have been in favour of Ukraine being granted a bye to Qatar.

"It was a Welsh perspective that if it could be accommodated it could be a really good thing to do," said the Corkman.

“It’s something as a human being you would say, ‘OK if they’re not ready to play in June should they be given a bye’.

“There was some loose discussion around it, saying could you get an extra space for Ukraine because of the horrendous time they are going through.

“But it would mean an extra team in the World Cup as there’s three teams left – ourselves, Scotland and Austria – and it’s a big thing for us to qualify for the World Cup.

“From our perspective we’d have been very comfortable with giving Ukraine a bye with the other three fighting it out amongst ourselves [for one place].

“But there’s the integrity of the competition, and with the tournament only 28 days to try and fit that sort of thing in would be very difficult.

"The feeling was that a 28-day tournament wouldn’t facilitate it.”

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FAW Noel Mooney Qatar 2022 Ukraine Wales World Cup