Russia accepted transfer requests from three Crimean football teams from Ukrainian leagues to be administered by the Russian Football Union (RFU), adding insult to injury to the Crimean secession from Ukraine earlier this year, according to the Associated Press. Incorporating the teams could put pressure on relations between Russia, the host country of the 2018 World Cup, and the governing body of soccer, the AP reported.
The three clubs -- SC Tavriya Simferopol, SKChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta -- withdrew their affiliations with Ukrainian authorities and applied for Russian licenses. Simferopol and Sevastopol were a part of the Ukrainian Premier League, the highest league in the country.
Officials with the Ukrainian Football Federation (UFF) have cried foul and has asked for the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to step in.
“We can’t do the work of FIFA and UEFA,” UFF spokesman Pavel Ternovoi told AP. “We hope that in the near future these bodies take the corresponding actions.”
The president of Tavriya Sevastopol told a Russian sports paper during its transfer negotiations that the club had been in contact with both bodies to be sure they didn’t attract sanctions for the transfer request.
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Sergei Stepashin, a former Russian prime minister and now an RFU committee member, said FIFA and UEFA could hand down sanctions, but believed the transfer was right.
The Russian Premier League is ranked seventh in the world, two spots above the Ukrainian Premier League. The three newly Russian teams will play in a lower-tier league and have to be promoted to the premier league. Only one of the three teams leaving, Tavriya Simferopol, has ever won a Ukrainian Premier League Championship, and that was in the league’s first year, 1992.
Since then Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk, coincidentally the two epicenters of the current conflict, have competed exclusively for the title. Shakhtar Donetsk is the current champion, but hasn’t played any games at home since the conflict got brewing. Ukrainian football authorities had to move the games to neutral stadiums for safety.
Six South American Shaktar players have refused to show up back in Donetsk over safety concerns and could possibly be transferred to other teams in UEFA.
— TwentyFourSevenHeads (@247Heads) August 1, 2014
Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup. Some have protested and lobbied FIFA to move the Cup after Russia annexed Crimea and the Ukrainian conflict continues to cost the lives of Ukrainian people. FIFA has said it will not transfer the Cup.