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26 Aug, 2022 14:42

Russian football initiatives for Crimea ‘all blocked’

Russian Premier League (RPL) president Aleksandr Alaev discussed the development of football in the region
Russian football initiatives for Crimea ‘all blocked’

Russia has been hindered in its efforts to develop football in Crimea after UEFA and FIFA turned down a series of initiatives, according to Russian Premier League (RPL) president Aleksandr Alaev. The official also said money intended for Crimea from UEFA and FIFA had been held up by Ukraine.

Crimean football is currently under “special status” in the eyes of the European and world football governing bodies, despite the peninsula rejoining Russia from Ukraine in a referendum in 2014.

Teams in the region play under the banner of the Crimean Football Union, although discussions in Russia have intensified in recent weeks about finally integrating clubs into the Russian football infrastructure.

UEFA repeated this week that it would remain opposed to that step, after the lower-tier Russian Football National League (FNL) announced the creation of a working group to move the investigate the issue further.

Speaking to Championat, newly-elected RPL leader Alaev said Russia had already made substantial efforts to help develop the sport in the region.

“I had a meeting with FIFA and UEFA in Helsinki at the UEFA Super Cup [earlier in August]. These were informal contacts. Russian football was discussed,” said Alaev.

“The conversation was about the fact that since 2014 Crimea has been a special territory under the auspices of UEFA.

“Sometimes negotiation is a very difficult process. For football organizations in other countries, this is a ‘special territory’. During these past eight years, we have came up with a large number of initiatives, but they were all blocked.

“At the same time, our colleagues from FIFA and UEFA also failed to implement any of their initiatives. Even the money allocated by the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee for the development of football in Crimea could not be sent to the Crimean Football Union.

“There was €1 or €2 million ($1-2 million). But the money got stuck because they were trying to do it through Ukraine.

“As far as I understand, [the money] is now on UEFA's account. They could not do anything with it, and we, among other things, discussed this more than once with our European colleagues,” added Alaev.

The RPL boss has previously said that Crimean integration into Russian football is “inevitable,” although in the same interview with Championat he said that Russia had faced the threat of UEFA expulsion when raising the issue back in 2014.

It was announced earlier this week that the Russian Sports Ministry would support the establishment of a new “Commonwealth League” featuring football teams from Crimea, the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, the regions of Kherson, Kharkov and Zaporozhye, as well as the Russian-recognized states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The league is expected to be held from March to November next year, and feature at least a dozen teams.    

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