Clubs' row escalates amid Ukraine turmoil

Uefa and Fifa urged to take action after three teams from Crimea play in Russian Cup qualifying-round matches this week without authority

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 11:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 11:12pm


The turmoil between Russia and Ukraine has spilled over into the world of sport as Russian football authorities escalated a dispute with Ukraine over control of three clubs from Crimea, which played matches in an official competition without authority.

The Ukrainian football federation wrote urging Uefa and Fifa to act after all three clubs played Russian Cup qualifying-round matches on Tuesday.

Uefa said it had not yet taken any disciplinary action against its Russian member federation.

If they would come up with a joint proposal that would be a very nice signal
Gianni Infantino

"We are in contact with both associations, but have no further comments to make at this stage," Uefa said.

Uefa and Fifa confirmed that the matches were played, and football's world governing body said it received the Ukraine federation's letter.

Uefa has responsibility over Fifa for disputes involving two member countries within Europe.

The issue flared again when Tavria Simferopol lost 2-0 at home to fellow Crimean club SKChF Sevastopol, whose fans ran onto the field, and Zhemchuzhina Yalta also lost 2-0, to visiting Sochi. The Russian Football Federation (RFU) fined Tavria and Sevastopol over the crowd disturbances.

The clubs are in a political stalemate after leaving Ukraine's league between seasons without Uefa's permission to join Russian competitions.

They completed last season in Ukraine after a March referendum in Crimea had strongly supported ceding to Russia, though that ballot is not officially recognised by the international community.

We are in contact with both associations, but have no further comments to make at this stage

That did not stop the RFU from announcing two weeks ago that all three clubs would enter a regional division of its third-tier league.

Uefa rules bar "combinations and alliances" involving clubs from different associations.

Last week, Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino said that it still hoped for a compromise between the two national federations.

"If they would come up with a joint proposal that would be a very nice signal," Infantino said at Uefa headquarters in Nyon. "Football sometimes makes miracles."

Fifa acknowledged Uefa's authority on Wednesday. It previously said it had not been formally approached on the Crimean clubs issue.

"Fifa will handle the matter based on the relevant processes that should be overseen by the confederation [Uefa] in the first instance," it said. For now, Fifa has not invoked its legal statutes which prohibit government interference in football.

Fifa, which has Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko as an executive committee member, has dismissed calls from some western lawmakers to review Russia's right to host the 2018 World Cup based on support for separatist causes in Ukraine.

Still, any Uefa or Fifa intervention on football issues could affect Russian clubs CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg playing in the Champions League, and the national team starting 2016 European Championship qualifying next month.

Uefa's ruling board must also decide on September 19 whether to choose St Petersburg among 13 host cities for Euro 2020.