Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko has called for Russia to be “totally isolated” from all professional sports as news emerged that the country will be banned from qualifying for Euro 2024.
Russia has been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions since the invasion of Ukraine in February. With the qualifying for the European Championship 2024 scheduled for October 9, the organizers will not include Russia. Yarmolenko, who spoke in Glasgow on Wednesday before the Ukrainian Nations League meeting with Scotland, endorsed UEFA’s position and called on other sports to follow suit.
“My thoughts are pretty simple,” said the former West Ham player. “Russian football, Russian sport should be completely isolated. This is a country of terrorists, a country that kills Ukrainians, that kills Ukrainian children. We can’t just talk about sports when something like this happens. All Ukrainian players want Russia to be isolated at every level.
“We cannot allow Russia to enter a competition while its army is killing the civilian population in Ukraine. The state of the Ukrainian team is united; Russia should be banned from everything.”
Ukraine’s head coach Oleksandr Petrakov has admitted he was fined by European football’s governing body after expressing a desire to take up arms against Russia. Petrakov said he was not aware of the amount of the fine and seemed completely at ease with the situation.
Asked about the Russian Football Federation’s wish to suspend him, Petrakov was equally relaxed: “I will say again what I said before,” said the 65-year-old coach. “This is clearly the Russian Football Federation and their legal team. Whatever they do, it’s their business. I stand by my words.”
When Ukraine visited Scotland in June, Petrakov’s team reached the final of the World Cup play-offs, which they lost to Wales. Scotland manager Steve Clarke has now admitted that the circumstances surrounding that delayed game made it difficult for his players. Ukraine was understandably the recipients of global aid.
“The last game was a really unique situation where nobody knew what to expect,” said Clarke. “Everyone says how good Ukraine is, they are a really good side. I don’t think they caught us cold, but it was a unique game. It was a game that didn’t suit us, it suited them. We didn’t play as best we can play. All we can do to address that is play better this time. And if we play better this time and Ukraine plays their level, let’s see what the outcome is.”