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GENEVA, August 22. /ITAR-TASS/. UEFA said Friday it would not recognize the matches played by Crimean football clubs in the format of competitions organized by the Russian Football Union (RFS).
“In light of the complex and difficult factual and political considerations, and until an agreed solution can be found with regard to the situation in Crimea, the UEFA Emergency Panel has today decided that any football matches played by Crimean clubs in the context of competitions organised by the Russian Football Union (RFS) will not be recognised by UEFA until further notice,” the association said in a statement.
The document said UEFA had no wish to prevent clubs from playing football. “On the contrary, UEFA recognises that football can have very positive and beneficial effects in bringing people together, especially during times of strife and unrest.”
“Nevertheless, in order for football to take place within an organised sporting and legal framework, such participation has to comply with the terms set out in the UEFA Statutes, which have been agreed by all 54 UEFA member associations,” the statement said.
It indicated that the UEFA Emergency Panel had also requested that the UEFA administration, together with FIFA, should “facilitate discussions with the representatives of the RFS and the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) in order to find a common solution to this situation.”
July 31, the bureau of the RFS executive committee authorized the clubs based in the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol, the two new constituent entities of the Russian Federation that switched their jurisdiction from Ukraine in mid-March, to play matches in the Division 2 of Russia’s domestic football championship on the condition that the club would pass the necessary certification procedures.
August 8, the RFS Vice-President, Nikita Simonian told reporters after an emergency meeting of the bureau that the clubs had completed their certification.
Crimean teams made debuts in the Cup of Russia championship August 12, with the Sevastopol-based SKCF winning 2:0 in a game versus TSK club from Simferopol and Yalta’s Zhemchuzhina losing 0:2 to Sochi club.
Anatoly Konkov, the president of Ukraine’s football federation issued appeals to FIFA and UEFA in the aftermath of the games to subject the RFS to sanctions.
Games played by Crimean clubs in the Russia’s domestic championships lie within the sphere of domestic competence of the RFS, Vyacheslav Babei, the Director-General of Zhemchuzhina Club told Itar-Tass when sports editors turned for comments to him.
“The access of Crimean teams to Russian championships is a matter of domestic, not international, jurisdiction,” he said. “I don’t think UEFA should influence the situation in Russian football in any way.”
Along with it, Babei found it difficult to say whether or not UEFA’s decision might affect Zhemchuzhina.
President of Simferopol’s TSK, Alexander Gaidash, said the main thing was that the Crimean clubs had been recognized by Russia.
“I didn’t like the subtext of UEFA’s statement,” he said. “It looks like UEFA will recognize the matches of some clubs playing in Division 2 but will not recognize the matches of other clubs. Wouldn’t this situation be really strange?”
On the face of it, the Honorary President of the RFS, Vyacheslav Koloskov, believes UEFA’s statement shows the association has taken a moderate enough stance on the situation around the Crimean clubs that entered the Russian national tournaments.
“It doesn’t affect us one way or the other,” he said. “These clubs are not going to play in European championships.”
“The reaction could be much tougher or none at all,” Koloskov said. “If they had felt like reacting in a tougher way, they would have produced a different formulation and would have spoken about sanctions or bans on the clubs but the definition they’ve published is agreeable for us.