UEFA calls emergency meeting as Russia starts to bomb Kiev
February 24 – Under pressure to respond to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called an extraordinary meeting of his executive committee for tomorrow, Friday.
In a brief statement UEFA said the emergency session had been called, with just 24 hours’ notice, “following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours” and that the meeting would “evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions.”
“We are dealing with this situation with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Decisions will be taken by the UEFA Executive Committee and announced tomorrow.”
With some reports suggesting UEFA had already taken the decision to move the Champions League final, the organisation put out a fresh statement in which it said it “shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine. “
“As the governing body of European football, UEFA is working tirelessly to develop and promote football according to common European values such as peace and respect for human rights, in the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We remain resolute in our solidarity with the football community in Ukraine and stand ready to extend our hand to the Ukrainian people.
The main decision will be whether to move this season’s Champions League final from St Petersburg, scheduled for May 28, which seems inevitable given the outcry over the escalation of the Ukraine crisis.
The executive committee includes Russia’s Alexander Dyukov but he seems unlikely to be able to dissuade UEFA from taking stern action.
Separately Poland has called on FIFA to clarify the fate of their World Cup playoff against Russia.
The Polish will face the Russians in the first step of the playoffs on the road to the World Cup in Qatar.
“The Polish FA has asked FIFA to urgently clarify the issues related to the organisation of the match,” said the PZPN in a statement. Given the importance of the match, the Polish FA wants to ensure its team can prepare in optimal conditions.
“However, being aware of potential threats connected to the current situation, we are waiting for the position of the world federation authorities,” said the PZPN.
Football has very quickly become dragged into the softer geo-politics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Yesterday UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a radio interview that any English clubs who reach the Champions League final should boycott it if it is held in St Petersburg. She echoed UK prime minister Boris Johnson who said on Tuesday there was “no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries”.
Truss said that if she was a player she would boycott the final. “I would personally not want to be playing in a football match in St Petersburg given what the Putin regime is doing.”
She later repeated her position in a BBC interview, saying: “I don’t believe that should go ahead in St Petersburg. I think it’s wrong at this stage with what Russia is doing internationally to have a football tournament there.”
Former FIFA vice president and Irish FA honorary life president Jim Boyce also said the final should be moved.
“I’m someone who believes that politics and sport really shouldn’t mix but, at the end of the day, this situation in Russia is just intolerable,” said Boyce.
“Think of the amount of income that would be brought into St Petersburg by people going there and spending money there. Whatever sanctions can be imposed to make it more and more difficult should happen.”
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