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24 Aug, 2022 10:04

‘Radical’ Crimea steps may be needed, says ex-FIFA official

Vyacheslav Koloskov urged the full integration of Crimean teams into Russian football
‘Radical’ Crimea steps may be needed, says ex-FIFA official

Former FIFA vice-president Vyacheslav Koloskov has suggested that drastic decisions may be required if global and European governing bodies do not recognize the integration of Crimean football into Russia.

Crimean teams remain outside Russian football leagues despite the peninsula rejoining Russia in a landslide referendum in 2014.

Newly-appointed Russian Premier League (RPL) president Aleksandr Alaev said earlier this month that “unofficial” talks had resumed with UEFA and FIFA on including Crimea under Russian football jurisdiction, describing integration as “inevitable.”

It was later reported that a working group would be established by Russia’s Football National League (FNL) to move the matter forward.

However, UEFA responded by repeating this week that its stance had not changed, and that it was against Crimean teams joining leagues organized by the Russian Football Union (RFU).

Koloskov, who is honorary RFU president and served as a FIFA vice-president between 1980 and 1996, has said negotiation with FIFA and UEFA would always be preferable – but failing that, more drastic actions would be needed.

“At any time when the RFU makes a decision, Crimean clubs will be able to compete under its auspices. Are we going to wait 10, 15, 20 years? This is Russian territory,” the 81-year-old told Sport-Express.  

“We need to try to convince people in UEFA that the accession of Crimean clubs to Russian football has nothing to do with politics. 

“Here you need to make a strong-willed decision in accordance with Russian laws, but at the same time observe correctness and be sure to notify UEFA and FIFA. 

“Maybe even go and explain the situation to them. It is necessary to send a delegation to Crimea, a working group of the FNL or the RFU, which would analyze the situation and figure out which clubs meet the criteria, where they can play and make a decision based on this,” he added.

“Everything depends on our arguments, we must try. If you do nothing, then nothing will happen. You have to go, explain the situation, negotiate. Maybe we can agree, maybe not.”

Koloskov noted that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland could be one option, before cautioning: “Of course, negotiations with UEFA are preferable to radical decisions, but if they don’t lead to anything, then radical decisions must be made.”

Crimea currently has its own football union, with an eight-league tournament which competes under “special status.”