Ukraine

Ukrainian football officials have confirmed that they will go ahead with plans to restart the domestic league on Friday despite the threat of invasion from Russia.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognised two eastern Ukrainian regions – around Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states after months of ongoing tensions,, during which time up to 150,000 Russian troops amassed around the borders of Ukraine.

 

Putin then announced that ‘peacekeeping troops’ would be entering the two regions as well, with the threat that it could escalate further into a full-blown invasion.

 

The league is set to return at the end of the week following a two month winter break and the 16 teams involved want to try and keep the season going in an attempt maintain some form of normality in the country.

 

“The main message to the Ukrainian people now is to carry on,” Ukrainian football expert and journalist Andrew Todos told the Daily Mail.

 

“People are worried, but football helps to give some respite.”

 

As it stands, there are no plans in place for the league to be suspended after Andriy Pavelko, president of the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF), released a statement that read: “Stability is very important right now and we want to tell the world that life goes on and the way we can help with that is the resumption of our league.

 

“We have to hope the difficult days will go away and there will be peace and prosperity for our country. Obviously, if the situation changes, we will have to assess the position.”

 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Premier League chief Yevhen Dykyy added: “We continue to closely monitor the situation, but at the moment the season resumes with a match between Mynai and Zorya Luhansk on Friday.”

 

UEFA have also revealed that they are considering changing the location of the Champions League final – which was due to be hosted in the Russian city of St. Petersburg in May.