Fresh steps towards Crimean football integration in Russia
Russian National Football League (FNL) leaders have created a working group to look into the process of integrating Crimean clubs into the nation's football structures, the body confirmed on Monday.
A meeting was held to discuss the matter where a letter from the Crimean Football Union was considered and plans for an FNL delegation to visit Crimea in the near future were revealed, as reported by TASS.
A date for an extraordinary meeting which will decide the FNL's new president was also set for October 4, with the vacancy becoming available after Alexander Alaev left to become the Russian Premier League's (RPL) president.
The FNL's steps come after Alaev said that Russian football was in unofficial talks with global and European football governing bodies to include Crimean clubs in its jurisdiction.
As also reported by TASS, Alaev described Crimea as a "special zone" where European governing body UEFA was supposed to develop the sport "for eight years" following the Russian Football Union's (RFU) creation of proposals when the peninsula rejoined Russia in 2014.
"Now our colleagues from FIFA and UEFA have not done anything for development, either in terms of infrastructure or in terms of funding," Alaev said, adding that while dialogue on the issue had previously stalled, it has since "resumed unofficially" with youth football a primary topic.
Furthermore, Alaev predicted that Crimean football "will move at a different pace in the near future" with it important "not to burn bridges."
Alaev also said that the integration of Crimea into Russian football was "inevitable," and his words already appear to be ringing true with the latest developments.
The Crimean Football Union (CFU) has been in operation since July 2015 and established its own eight-team league the following month with support from UEFA.
Until Alaev's successor has been appointed, FNL executive director Nail Izmailov is filling in as the body's acting president.