NYON: European federation UEFA has decided to play for time in the intractable issue of the Crimea football clubs embraced by the Russian league following the annexing of the region writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The three main Crimea clubs  – Tavria Simferopol, SKChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta – have already begun competitive ‘life’ in the Russian league and cup after being snatched out of Ukraine and Ukrainian football.

This directly contravenes statutes of the world federation FIFA which insist that any intra-national transfer of clubs must be undertaken with the agreement of both national associations – and the Ukraine federation has clearly expressed its opposition.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said earlier this week that a lead on the issue had been delegated to UEFA. Now the European federation’s emergency panel had proposed three-way negotiations with the two FAs to find a way forward.

In the meantime UEFA has refused to recognise results of the Crimean clubs within Russian football but this is a mere technicality. Since they are in the third tier of the Russian system there is no prospect of them coming anywhere near qualifying for European competition.

A more likely complication might arise were a player from one of the clubs to be selected for a Russian team in an international competition, perhaps a youth tournament.

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 executive committee.

Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis has prompted demands from some western politicians for the country to be stripped of hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup finals.

In could take several weeks for UEFA to seek to bring representatives of both Russian and Ukraine FAs together and possibly not before the next FIFA executive meeting in a month’s time. Hence the ball would be firmly back, by then, in FIFA’s court.

UEFA statement

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.

UEFA has 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 UEFA Emergency Panel has also requested that the UEFA administration, together with FIFA, 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.