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FIFA to move World Cup qualifier against Ireland due to Georgian crisis

FIFA could move Georgia's upcoming World Cup qualifier against Ireland because of the escalating crisis in the country.

World football's governing body said Monday it has yet to decide if the country is safe enough for the home match scheduled for Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, a UEFA Cup tie scheduled for Thursday in the capital Tbilisi between WIT Georgia and Austria Vienna will be moved to neighboring Armenia or Azerbaijan.

The Wales Football Association said it will find out later Monday if Georgia wants to go ahead with a friendly match between the two countries in Swansea on Aug. 20.

Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory Monday, continuing the Russian-Georgian conflict that blew up after a Georgian offensive to regain control of the other breakaway province of South Ossetia.

With European qualifying for the 2010 World Cup starting next month, Georgia is scheduled to open its Group 8 program against Ireland in Tbilisi.

"FIFA is closely monitoring the situation in Georgia," the Zurich-based body said in a statement. "However, at this time, it is too early to speculate on any possibilities."

The Irish Football Association (FAI) said Monday it "views with concern the escalation of hostilities." It said it would work with government and sports authorities "to keep fans informed of any updates and advice from these bodies as they become available."

Georgia is due to play at Italy in Udine on Sept. 10 before hosting Cyprus and Bulgaria in October.

Officials at club side WIT were deciding Monday whether to play its upcoming UEFA Cup match against Austria Vienna - a first-leg tie in the second qualifying round - in Abovyan, Armenia, or the Azerbaijan capital Baku.

"We are in contact with the club and the national football association," UEFA said in a statement. "We are waiting for the club to decide where to play."

WIT is the last Georgian club remaining in UEFA-organized competitions this season. Champion Dinamo Tbilisi was knocked out of the Champions League last week by Greek side Panathinaikos 3-0 on aggregate.

Wales selected Georgia for a friendly match because it plays Azerbaijan in a Group 4 qualifying match Sept. 6.

The Welsh football association said the match next week is still scheduled to go ahead but that "we hope to have a further update from Tbilisi later this afternoon."

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