Martial law in Ukraine leaves Arsenal and Vorskla in limbo

Ukrainian club say they have applied to play in Kiev but they are awaiting confirmation

Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe tackles Vorskla Poltava’s Igor Perduta during their Europa League game at the Emirates. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe tackles Vorskla Poltava’s Igor Perduta during their Europa League game at the Emirates. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

 

Arsenal’s Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava on Thursday remains in doubt after the Ukrainian side said they do not know where the game can be played.

Uefa decided on Tuesday to move the Group E game from Poltava’s Oleksiy Butovsky Stadium – around 185 miles east of Kiev – to the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in the capital owing to security concerns following the introduction of martial law. Politicians in the country this week approved a proposal to introduce martial law in areas most vulnerable to attack following the seizing of three Ukrainian ships by Russia.

“The process is under way. We have applied to the NSC Olimpiyskiy with an official statement about the possibility of hosting the game,” the Vorskla vice president Oleg Lisak said.

“The NSC Olimpiyskiy has not provided any answer so far. We are in standby mode. We are preparing plan A and plan B in terms of stadium preparation. We would like to play in our stadium for our fans [BUT]at the moment there’s a situation that we’re organising two games in different places so [the organisation] will be carried out at the appropriate level, with proper security measures. Now we’re waiting for an answer from the Olympic Stadium on whether they are ready to host us.”

The club later tweeted a picture of the team coach on its way to Kiev. Arsenal are watching the situation having already qualified for the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Uefa is “working closely” with the Football Federation of Ukraine to ensure the game goes ahead in Kiev. Its statement read: “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 is working closely with the FFU to ensure the match goes ahead in Kiev. Uefa will be sending senior security experts to Ukraine to further assess the situation and the potential impact on security for upcoming Uefa matches.” – Guardian service

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