Vorskla says Arsenal game at risk after UEFA move
POLTAVA, Ukraine (AP) — A day before it’s due to play Arsenal in the Europa League, Ukrainian club Vorskla Poltava said it can’t guarantee the game will go ahead as planned.
UEFA moved the Europa League game from Poltava to the capital on Tuesday after the Ukrainian parliament voted to introduce martial law in parts of the country, not including either city.
Vorskla vice president Oleh Lysak said Wednesday the club hasn’t received confirmation from Kiev’s Olympic Stadium that it will host the game. There are also unresolved questions about how ticket sales for two stadiums can be managed.
“The Olympic Stadium hasn’t given us any kind of confirmation or any other kind of answer,” Lysak said. He added that Vorskla’s influential billionaire honorary president, Konstyantyn Zhevago, suggested Arsenal was reluctant to travel to Poltava after the other two teams in the group did so.
“For the honorary president it’s a puzzle why Sporting (Lisbon) and Qarabag could travel and stay here, but Arsenal can’t,” Lysak said. “Of course there are subjective and objective reasons related to martial law, but we are not a region which has come under the martial law order.”
UEFA said it was “working closely with the Football Federation of Ukraine to ensure that the match goes ahead,” adding that it “regrets” any inconvenience for supporters.
“The urgent decision of UEFA to relocate the match to Kiev was based on the sudden introduction of martial law and the uncertainty of the security situation in some parts of Ukraine and particularly given the extremely short timescale available to evaluate all existing risks,” UEFA said, adding it will send security experts to Ukraine soon to analyze the situation.
Ukraine’s parliament voted to introduce martial law in some areas after an incident Sunday in which Russian border guards fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait. Russia has detained 24 crewmen, of which Ukraine says six are injured.
Another game which could be affected is Shakhtar Donetsk’s Champions League contest on Dec. 12 against Lyon. That fixture is due to be played in the city of Kharkiv, which is in the area covered by martial law.