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Crimean conflict envelops soccer as Russia and Ukraine each lay claim to clubs

Aug 1, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

Ukraine AP

According to an Associated Press report, three clubs in the Crimea region recently annexed by Russia will play in the Russian Premier League next season.

Ukraine isn’t happy about it, and wants FIFA to get involved.

Most notably, Ukranian club FC Sevastopol ceased to exist completely, deciding to change its name to SC Black Sea Fleet and apply for a Russian license. Sevastopol finished 9th in the Ukranian Premier League last season.

In addition, Tavria Simferopol did the same, choosing to keep its name the same upon submission for a Russian license. The club was the first-ever winners of the Ukranian Premier League.

Zhemchuzhina Yalta is the third club involved in the dispute.

It’s a brand new development that Russia wishes to include these clubs in next year’s play. Reports in February said the clubs would not be allowed in the upcoming Russian season since the Russian FA had delayed its vote on the matter past the deadline.

“There are no chances whatsoever for the Crimean clubs to make the start of the Russian championship,” honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov said in early June.

Now, the Ukrainian FA is furious with Russia pilfering its Premier League clubs.

“We can’t do the work of FIFA and UEFA. We hope that in the near future these structures take the corresponding decisions,” said Ukranian Football Federation (FFU) spokesperson Pavel Ternovoi.

When asked if he hoped FIFA would sanction the Russian league, Ternovoi responded, ” We do not want the destruction of Russian football. The [Ukranian] federation wants justice and the absence of politics in football, both in Russia and in Crimea.”

Russian Federation executive Sergei Stepashin told local media that the federation would expect sanctions should they annex the Crimean clubs, but that they had “no doubts” it was the right move.

Deputy president of the FFU Anatoly Popov told tribuna.com, “Crimea is a temporarily occupied part of Ukrainian territory. This fact was recognized by the international community at the UN General Assembly. The Ukrainian state will definitely make every endeavor to return the Crimean peninsula, while the FFU will try its hardest to bring the Crimean clubs back to the Ukrainian league.”

Back in March, The Guardian released a report that cited one anonymous foreign player on Tavria who said, “Nobody knows which league we will play in or when we will be able to play home games again.”  The report said there was a “tense atmosphere inside the training ground.”

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