Five months after the annexation of Crimea, Russia and Ukraine are now squabbling over football clubs in the region. Defying authorities in Ukraine, Russia is incorporating three Crimean teams into its own leagues — a move that could strain relations between the host country of the 2018 World Cup and the sport’s world governing body. Ukrainian football officials called on FIFA and European governing body UEFA to respond, saying Russia has no right to run the sport on what Ukraine considers its territory.
The federation wants justice and the absence of politics in football, both in Russia and in Crimea.
Pavel Ternovoi, Ukrainian Football Federation spokesman
FIFA has already rejected calls for Russia to be stripped of the World Cup in the wake of the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. With more than 1,000 people killed — including the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — and many more displaced, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has touched all aspects of everyday life. Last week, Ukrainian Premier League club Zorya Luhansk, whose home city is the base of a pro-Russian group, posted pictures of damage to its stadium caused by mortar rounds that smashed seats and left a crater in the field.