Aston Villa’s Matty Cash sends clear message of what he thinks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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The right-back’s superb goal was met with a harsh response

It was a weekend which will live long in the memory of Aston Villa defender Matty Cash.

Ahead of Villa’s Premier League visit to Brighton & Hove Albion, the right-back and Poland international posted an Instagram message which revealed his national side would not participate in their World Cup semi-final play-off against Russia on March 24.

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Cash’s words and the general sentiments of his Polish team-mates have been praised over the past 48 hours when it has also emerged that Sweden and the Czech Republic – one of whom are due to meet Poland or Russia in the March 29 play-off final in the bid to book a place in Qatar – would also refuse to play against Russia.

Matty Cash unveils his message of support alongside Villa team-mates. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.Matty Cash unveils his message of support alongside Villa team-mates. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.
Matty Cash unveils his message of support alongside Villa team-mates. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.

After Villa’s team coach was held up in traffic en route to the Amex Stadium – resulting in kick-off being delayed by half an hour – Cash was finally able to focus on football again and within 17 minutes scored a brilliant goal.

His strike was followed by the 24-year-old lifting up his Villa shirt to reveal a body-warmer bearing a message of support for Polish team-mate and Dynamo Kiev player Tomasz Kedziora, who is still in Kiev with his family.

The result of Cash’s actions…? Yes, you’ve guessed it – the obligatory yellow card.

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What did Cash say on the eve of Villa’s win on the south coast?

The former Nottingham Forest man’s Instagram story post, read: “We, the players of the Polish national team, together with the Polish Football Association, decided that, as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we do not intend to play in the play-off match against Russia.

“It is not an easy decision, but there are more important things in life than football. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian nation and our friend from the national team, Tomasz Kedziora, who is still in Kiev with his family. #SolidarityWithUkraine #NoWarPlease

His post was liked by 52,592 people including England’s Jack Grealish and Villa team-mates John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey.

What unfolded at Brighton?

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After Lucas Digne’s cross had only been half cleared, Cash drove a superb right-footed strike inside the far post from the edge of the box.

His joy at scoring was clear for all to see and he immediately lifted his Villa shirt to unveil a heart-felt message of support to Kedziora, which read: ‘Tomasz Kedziora and family, stay strong bro’, with an accompanying heart.

Matty Cash drives home the opening goal for Villa. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.Matty Cash drives home the opening goal for Villa. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.
Matty Cash drives home the opening goal for Villa. Picture: Henry Browne/Getty Images.

Rules state players should be booked for taking their shirt off and that is what happened as referee John Brooks brandished the yellow card.

However, the official – and more so the rigid rules in general – were slammed by fans and pundits alike.

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Among them was Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling who said: “It’s a message for people in Ukraine and he’s been booked for it.

“Look, John Brooks is an inexperienced Premier League referee. Hopefully, when people come to their senses, the Premier League will just ignore that, they should just ignore that.”

Where does the booking leave Cash?

Both Cash and Villa will now hope that, given the severity of the current circumstances, the Premier League will rescind the booking.

Players who accumulate ten yellow cards in Premier League matches, up to and including their team’s 32nd fixture, will serve a two-match suspension in the competition.

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Cash now has eight bookings to his name so must avoid two or more bookings in the next seven league games to ensure he is not suspended.

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