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SBD Global/August 14, 2014/International Football

Ukraine Wants Russian Football Association Sanctioned For Accepting Crimea Clubs

Ukraine's football federation has called on FIFA and UEFA to sanction the Russian Football Union "for bringing Crimean clubs into its league structure," according to Igor Nitsak of REUTERS. Three Crimean teams -- TSK Simferopol, SKChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta -- "have been accepted by the RFU to play in the Russian championship next season." The trio "played matches in the Russian Cup on Tuesday." An official letter of complaint signed by Football Federation of Ukraine President Anatoly Konkov "was posted on the domestic governing body's official website on Tuesday." The letter said, “With all respect we are addressing you (FIFA and UEFA) over the events troubling not only the Ukrainian football society but also the whole football community. We have witnessed the executive committee of the Russian football union illegally and arbitrarily embracing the Ukrainian clubs from the Crimea peninsula" (REUTERS, 8/12). The KYIV POST's Mark Rachkevych wrote Ukraine considers Crimea, which Russia annexed five months ago in March, "a part of its territory, while the international community at large has not recognized its takeover." Konkov said, “Crimea is a part of Ukraine, therefore all football subjects of the Crimea are under the jurisdiction of the Football Federation of Ukraine.” UEFA said it "is monitoring the situation and is in contact with both national associations to discuss the matter." UEFA: "We have no further comment to make at this stage." FIFA did not immediately "comment on the matter" (KYIV POST, 8/12).

COLLISION COURSE: SPORT ACT's Jamie Rainbow wrote the 2018 World Cup host has set itself "on a collision course" with FIFA. The governing rules of the world federation, "by which the Russians are bound, lay down that clubs may transfer from one national jurisdiction to another only with agreement of both associations." The Ukraine federation has made it clear that "it does not agree" with the clubs from the annexed region being "stolen" by the Russians. The row places Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko "squarely in the firing line over a conflict of interest since he is not only a member of President Vladimir Putin's government," but also of the FIFA exec committee (SPORT ACT, 8/13). In N.Y., Patrick Reevell wrote a leaked recording of a meeting of Russia’s top football execs "appears to show them panicked at the possibility that their clubs might be ejected from major European competitions and Russia might be stripped of the 2018 World Cup as they discuss a vote to admit three clubs from Crimea." In the recording, the execs, who control Russia’s top clubs, "recoil from taking a step that might invite more Western sanctions or displease" Putin. On the tape, "they resolve to seek guidance from Putin, in apparent violation of strict FIFA rules" that national football associations be free from political influence. An abridged transcript of the recording "was published Monday by the Russian investigative magazine Novaya Gazeta" and could not be independently verified by the N.Y. Times. The recording "is remarkable for the number of wealthy men exhibiting fear at angering the Kremlin, and also as a rare insight into the absolute authority Putin wields in Russia and the psychological effect of Western sanctions on the country’s establishment" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/12).
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