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Nations waiting on decision over Georgia trip

A decision on whether Georgia will be able to fulfil their friendly match against Wales next week is expected today, while FIFA and UEFA have also been asked by the Football Association of Ireland to rule on whether the Republic's World Cup qualifier next month can take place in the war-torn region.

The conflict between Georgia and neighbours Russia, centring around the breakaway region of South Ossetia, could force the friendly against Wales to be cancelled and football's world and European governing bodies must decide whether to move competitive matches away from Tbilisi for the time being.

The Georgian federation confirmed to their Welsh counterparts last night that they were 'keen' for the friendly to go ahead as scheduled and a decision should come later today.

FAW press officer Ceri Stennett issued a statement saying: 'There will be further talks regarding the Wales v Georgia friendly on Wednesday.

'The Georgian FA are still very keen to play the match, but much will depend on events over the next 36 hours.

'We would not expect to make any further comment until the conversation on Wednesday.'

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Ireland wants to change the venue of next month's World Cup qualifier.

Reports yesterday suggested that Russian forces had launched attacks around the capital, Tbilisi, where the match is scheduled to take place on September 6.

The FAI have now written to FIFA, UEFA and the Georgian Football Association to request a change of venue for the tie.

A statement on the FAI's website read: 'Further to discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs, who are currently advising against non-essential travel to Georgia, the FAI has today written to FIFA, UEFA and the Georgian FA, to indicate that its preferred option would be to find an alternative venue on the same date for the Group 8 World Cup qualifier against Georgia in Tbilisi.

'The FAI will keep fans informed of any decision from FIFA on this matter and will continue to work with FIFA to enable them to make a timely decision.'

Many of the Georgian players are playing overseas in some of Europe's top league, so it would not be too difficult to assemble a squad without having to fly from Georgia.

Of the current Georgia squad, eight are based in their homeland, but there are seven playing in Russia, three in Germany, and one each in France and Italy.

Their captain is AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze, who has 62 caps, while vice-captain Levan Kobiashvili - capped 71 times - is with Schalke in Germany.

The Georgians clearly want to show that they can complete international fixtures, with the situation involving the Republic and their World Cup qualifiers completely different.

But if the Georgians can assemble a squad of their players from around Europe, they clearly want to play in Wales and show that they can carry out fixtures ahead of the World Cup matches.

Wales have already decided they will not seek a replacement country to take up the Swansea date if the Georgians are unable to fulfil the fixture.

The FAW are acutely conscious of the humanitarian issues that must take precedence and they feel that to invite another nation would be insensitive.


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