The martial law, which was introduced in 10 regions of Ukraine, starting from November 28, contrary to the statements of the country's leadership, still began to affect the holding of international sporting events.
The first “under the hand” was the match of the Football League of Europe between Vorskla and London Arsenal, which was supposed to pass on November 29 in Poltava, a city that is not in martial law.
Chronicle of the failed battle of Poltava
Fears that in Europe our martial law would be taken too close to the heart and to other organs responsible for calm, arose almost immediately. I also remember the torment of our teams in various sports, which by the decision of international federations could not conduct home games with foreign rivals in Kharkov, Dnipro and Zaporozhye.
Far from all the cities of Ukraine were open to international games (and in February 2014 Dynamo hosted Valencia in Nicosia, Cyprus). Although the situation has gradually leveled off over the years. But now again turned back.
Despite all the calming statements of the authorities.
Thus, the Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine Igor Zhdanov, on his Facebook page, confidently stated that not a single national or international sports tournament scheduled in areas where martial law was introduced would not be canceled.
Recall, we are talking about Vinnitsa, Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv regions.
“As before, restrictions regarding the holding of mass sporting events can be applied only if there is information about a serious danger to citizens that was received from the Security Service of Ukraine and law enforcement agencies,” Zhdanov emphasized. “The Ministry of Youth and Sports, the relevant national sport federations and the organizers of the competition will separately inform the public about each such event. In this case, of course, during mass sports events at this time I will security measures. "
The only thing Zhdanov kept silent about is the reaction of federations with international status to martial law on a part of the territory of Ukraine.
But UEFA, the supreme European body in football, announced on November 26 that the introduction of martial law would not prevent the holding of the game Vorskla – Arsenal, which will take place in Poltava: "UEFA confirms that the match will be held on Thursday in accordance with the planned schedule. As with all matches under the auspices of UEFA, all necessary safety measures will be taken. "
Given the statement of UEFA from Nyon, Switzerland, decided to show their own confidence and the Football Federation of Ukraine. On the afternoon of November 27, a release appeared on the FFU website stating that there are no recommendations or warnings from law enforcement or other authorities of Ukraine regarding limiting football events in the country: “Also, the FFU has not received any warnings from UEFA regarding holding period of martial law of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches. "
But after seven and a half hours, at 22:15, FFU issued a message of a completely different nature. It turns out that a special UEFA commission decided to postpone the Vorskla-Arsenal match from Poltava to Kiev, to the Olimpiysky NSC. Why it is to Kiev, and not to Lviv, which is declared to be a reserve city at Vorskla, is not entirely clear.
Similarly, it is not clear what Poltava, which is not part of the zone of martial law, did not please the bosses in Nyon. The explanations that the Arsenal supposedly planned to fly to the “military” Kharkov (and from there to get to Poltava by bus) are not convincing. Because it is not hard to change the landing site from Kharkov to Boryspil. Airplanes often land not where they planned – for example, due to weather conditions.
The UEFA Special Commission, which included UEFA President Alexander Cheferin, First Vice President Karl-Eric Nilsson, Vice President Fernando Gomes and members of the Executive Committee John Delaney and Servet Yardimci, referred to article 79 of the UEFA Europa League Rules-2018/2019. Thus, its decision is final and not subject to appeal.
This decision has created a number of problems for both clubs. Arsenal had to urgently search for a top hotel in Kiev, where it would be possible to lodge a large delegation of the London club.
Similar problems, complicated by questions of logistics and money back for booking hotels in Poltava, appeared to English journalists and fans.
Even more difficult, “Vorskla”, which needs to organize the match at the level, and prepare itself, and with the fans, who bought almost 20 thousand tickets for the match with the grandeur of European football in advance, somehow sort it out. And all this – less than two days before the starting whistle.
And to "Miner" to play with "Lion" in Kharkov
After such a feint from UEFA, the leadership of Shakhtar was definitely strained. The miners, as you know, their home games of recent years have been stably held in Kharkov, and he is in the zone of martial law. In contrast to Poltava, which suffered in general, it is not clear because of what.
As the story with Vorskla has shown, UEFA's placid statements cost little, because at any moment information of a completely different content may arrive.
But the official site of the champion of Ukraine did not publish any statements – on the contrary, he continues to invite fans to the Champions League game on December 12 with the French Lion in Kharkov.
After the victory of the team of Paulo Fonseca on Tuesday, visiting the “Hoffenheim”, the game with “Lion” for the “miners” turns into the final. The victory will open the way to the 1/8 finals of the Champions League, and a draw will give a consoling pass to the 1/16 finals of the Europa League.
“Shakhtar” should approach such a fight as fully prepared from all points of view, work in a calm and understandable mode, without force majeure, counting on guaranteed support from the fans.
Tickets in the Donetsk club for this game began to sell in late August – immediately after the group round draw. Then they could be taken as a package for three home games of Shakhtar in the Champions League group stage in Kharkov. In mid-November, the sale began directly on the game on December 12.
Now all this can lead to serious problems, given the possible reaction of UEFA. However, Shakhtar, in contrast to Vorskla, has more experience in holding international matches. And now he has more time to develop a "plan B" too.
And the fact that the “Plan B” is necessary is clear even without the statement of UEFA, which, in principle, has already created a precedent. After all, Lyon’s president Jean-Michel Olas has already said about the potential danger of the match in Kharkiv: “The Arsenal match has been rescheduled. Whether we will fly to Ukraine in the current political situation is not yet clear. It’s difficult to organize a charter.”
What to do in the Premier League
In the two rounds of the championship of Ukraine that remained before the winter break (December 17, December 1–3; December 18–7, December 7), in the regions where martial law is introduced, five matches are to be held. In Chernigov (Desna – Zarya, December 1), in Kharkov (Shakhtar – Olimpik, December 2), Mariupol (Mariupol – Shakhtar, December 7), Zaporizhia (Zarya – "Arsenal", December 8) and Odessa ("Chernomorets" – "Vorskla", December 8).
The Premier League is silent on this issue, expecting, apparently, a signal from the FFU, from the clubs or from law enforcement agencies. UPL has long shown itself to be an organization that is afraid to take responsibility, so its position was not surprised.
In Chernihiv, the game will definitely not be – it was moved to Kiev. First, the site "Desna" wrote that this was due to the fact that the lawn heating system at the Chernigov stadium named after Yuri Gagarin is not functioning fully. And then, when it came to martial law, this factor was also added, but it was not the main one.
Sites of other clubs that need to already know where to take opponents, while silent.
It is possible that the games will take place as planned. Moreover, the importance of the game in Kharkiv between Shakhtar and Olimpik is increasing – it’s a matter of principle to hold it at Metalist stadium so that there is an argument for UEFA regarding the safety of the Shakhtar-Lyon match in the Champions League. And in Mariupol, apparently, the miners will also need to go – with the same purpose to convince the UEFA.
Metalist stadium in Kharkov is still in question. It is unclear whether the game will be held here, “Miner” with “Lion”
On Thursday, November 29, in Zaporozhye, a match will be held between the men's basketball teams of Ukraine and Slovenia – in the selection for the 2019 World Cup in the European zone. The day before the game, Evgeny Murzin’s team held an open training session at the Yunost arena.
There are no prerequisites for transferring the game – on November 27, the FIBA security inspector visited Zaporizhia, who inspected the arena where the match will take place, as well as the hotels that have chosen the teams. Following the results of the inspection, it was decided that the match, as planned, would be held in Zaporizhia.
In the same Zaporozhye, December 4-5, a friendly match with the Portugal team of the Ukrainian national futsal team should be held. They will be held there, on the parquet of the arena "Youth". Also expected is the arrival of the famous Ricardinho – the best futsal player of the planet for 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. A kind of analogue of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
There were no questions about these games either. And therefore, it is likely that they will pass on time in the places planned in advance.