KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: The heads of the Russian and Ukrainian FAs will meet in Nyon next month to pursue a peaceful solution to the wrangle over football’s own Crimea crisis.
World and European governing bodis FIFA and UEFA were drawn into the political strife after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Earlier this month the Russian Football Union admitted Crimean clubs Tavria Simferopol, SKChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta into the third tier of its league and into the national cup competition.
International football statutes do not necessarily prevent border-switching by clubs but both national associations must agree. In this case the Ukraine federation has protested against the Russian ‘kidnap’ of its clubs.
One coach of another Ukraine club, Vitaly Kvartsyanyi of Volyn Lutsk, has demanded that Russia be stripped of hosting the 2018 World Cup for being in breach of FIFA statutes.
Two weeks ago FIFA president Sepp Blatter said UEFA had been delegated to resolve the issue. European president Michel Platini said today in Monaco that a first meeting between the Russia and Ukraine FAs would be held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon next month.
Platini said: “In an extremely difficult environment, the two federations have opened the door to dialogue so that a solution can be found soon.
“At UEFA headquarters we will have a meeting between all parties on September 18. We will all be around the same table. I do not know if the importance of the process we have initiated can be measured but it is extremely encouraging.”
Some western European politicians, including Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, have demanded the country be stripped of the finals because of the Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent military action in eastern Ukraine.
As UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said, in masterly understatement: “It’s a very thorny subject.”