Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 18 News List

UEFA rules against recognizing Crimea clubs

AP, GENEVA, Switzerland

UEFA will not recognize any matches played by Crimean clubs in Russian competitions, but stopped short of issuing sanctions against FIFA 2018 World Cup host Russia on Friday.

Three clubs from Crimea, a region in Ukraine annexed by Russia in March, debuted in Russian league and cup competitions this month.

UEFA’s Emergency Panel ruled that the clubs’ matches “will not be recognized by soccer’s European governing body until further notice,” it said in a statement.

The Ukrainian Football Federation had called for sanctions against Russia’s soccer authorities, arguing that admitting the Crimean clubs meant the Russian Football Union (RFU) broke UEFA regulations by acting outside its jurisdiction.

The ruling “satisfies us,” union honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov told Russia’s R-Sport, because “in it there are no sanctions or threats of sanctions against the RFU.”

Former FIFA vice president Koloskov added that “UEFA, in my opinion, has acted very wisely.”

The ruling is not a “tragedy,” Russian Minister for Sports and FIFA Executive Committee member Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited Russia at the weekend for talks in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mutko and World Cup organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin.

During the trip, Blatter reiterated his stance that the Crimea matter should be “overseen” by UEFA, according to FIFA. Soccer’s world governing body did not specify if the issue was raised during Blatter’s meeting with Putin, or at another time.

As the sport’s governing body in Europe, UEFA has precedence over FIFA in purely European disputes.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta earlier this month published what it said was a leaked recording of a meeting of the union’s executive board to discuss admitting the Crimean clubs to the league.

On the recording, which has not been independently verified, some of the participants express concern that Russia could lose the right to host the 2018 World Cup or that Russian clubs could be ejected from UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League.

All three Crimean clubs covered by Friday’s ruling — SKChF Sevastopol, Tavria Simferopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta — are playing in Russia’s third tier and none are competing in any UEFA tournaments this season, so the ruling is likely to have little practical effect.

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