Ukraine’s football authorities have objected to reported plans to absorb Crimean teams into Russian competitions
The Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) has called on FIFA and UEFA to strip the Russian Football Union (RFU) of its membership, due to clubs from Crimea receiving official invitations to compete within the Russian football pyramid.
In a statement published on its website on Saturday, the UAF said that it has written to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to express opposition to plans for Crimea-based football teams to be absorbed into the Russian football structure.
Russia should be “deprived” of its membership in FIFA and UEFA, the UAF said, because of its “illegal process of taking over Ukrainian football entities by Russian stakeholders.”
The UAF notes in its statement that FC Sevastopol has been issued a certificate to compete in the Russian Second League – the third tier of domestic football in the country’s football hierarchy. It also says that Crimea-based teams TSK-Tavria Simferopol, Rubin Yalta, and Ocean Kerch are also expected to receive similar invitations.
The teams presently compete under the auspices of the Crimean Football Union, a body that is not recognized by the UAF.
“The desire of officials from the aggressor country to involve teams from the temporarily occupied Crimea in competitions on the territory of the Russian Federation did not go unnoticed by the Ukrainian Football Association,” the organization wrote in its Saturday statement.
It added that the aforementioned teams “come from a territory that was granted special status by UEFA in 2014.”
In December 2014, UEFA ruled that football clubs from the Crimean Peninsula were suspended from playing in Russia’s domestic competitions several months after Moscow claimed the territory. FIFA regulations state that football clubs may only represent other associations in exceptional circumstances, and with the full approval of all parties.
Speaking at the time, UEFA’s then-Secretary General Gianni Infantino confirmed the RFU could not organize football competitions in Crimea. He added that UEFA would fund football projects in the Crimea region.
“It is not up to UEFA to determine any political situation,” Infantino said in 2014. “It is about football.” On Saturday the UAF stated that permitting teams from Crimea to play in Russian competitions would “demonstrate contempt for the position and decision of FIFA and UEFA.”
Russia’s national and club football teams were suspended from most major international competitions in late February of last year following the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
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