Steve Clarke ‘heartbroken’ by Ukraine crisis as Scotland boss hoping June playoff will be sign of peace

Steve Clarke admits the graphic scenes and horrors of war in Ukraine are a reminder that football is only a game.

The national boss revealed the images of death and destruction following the invasion by Russia have left him heartbroken.

And they trivialise upcoming friendly fixtures this month.

Scotland will host Poland at Hampden on March 24 with £10 from each ticket sold supporting UNICEF’s humanitarian response to the ongoing crisis.

Scotland’s World Cup play-off semi-final with Ukraine has been postponed to June. And Clarke admits the scale of the conflict has shocked him to the core.

The Scotland boss said: “This situation was unimaginable a few months ago. Now that it’s happened, it’s horrific.

“Even sitting here talking about football, it’s in the back of my mind that we are in this situation of playing friendly games.

“We are going to raise as much money as we can for UNICEF to distribute and help the people of Ukraine – but it’s horrendous.

“I’ve got to be honest, most of the time I’ve got to turn the TV off.

“To see somebody lying dead on the street or kids crying on trains pulling out of the station, is just heartbreaking.”

Clarke insists he had been keen to visit Ukraine before the invasion.

But there are huge doubts over Nations League fixtures being played in the foreseeable future in Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

He said: “I was looking forward to getting there in the Nations League. Hopefully we still can but I think that one is probably an even longer shot than Ukraine getting to Hampden.”

Scotland face a possible six-game fixture pile-up in June.

But Clarke hopes getting the green light to face Ukraine in their World Cup play-off would be a sign of an end to the war.

He said: “My hope is we play Ukraine in June. That would be everything. It would mean we are in a much better place.”

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